Over a million people attend a rally by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and its allies in Kolkata

People gathered in Kolkata on the 28th February during a massive rally organized by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and its allies. The rally – one of the largest political gatherings of recent years, was held at Kolkata’s Brigade Parade Ground.

Traffic came to a halt in parts of Kolkata as the rally took place in the biggest open ground in the city and located in the sprawling Maidan.

The huge rally comes just prior to the West Bengal assembly polls, sending a strong message to both the governing BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and TMC (All India Trinamool Congress).  

“TMC has to be dethroned to stop the juggernaut of BJP in Bengal”, pointed out in his speech the General Secretary of the Communist Party (Marxist) Sitaram Yechury. “We shall fight to ensure equal rights for men & women from all sections of society, and against onslaught on pluralistic expression” said Surjya Kanta Mishra, West Begal State Secretary of CPI(M).

As the Communist Party (Marxist) mentioned in its Facebook account “by conservative estimate around 10 lakh (1 million) people from all walks of life came to the Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata today. To stop saffronisation, privatization and corruption in education system, to restore democratic rights of the people, to ensure free and fair election, many other issues, people of all ages came and registered their presence in what was one of the world’s largest peaceful political gathering”.

In a bid to display the strength of the third front which has taken shape over the past few weeks, the CPI(M) has planned a mega show along with its partners in the Left Front. The Congress and the Indian Secular Front (ISF), a new platform launched by cleric Abbasuddin Siddiqui from Furfura Sharif, have also been invited.

Although the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main contenders in the bi-polar election, have been planning to hold rallies at the Brigade grounds, it is the CPI(M) and its Left partners who have managed to organise the first one.

Thousands of Left supporters from the districts started arriving in Kolkata by trains and busses on Saturday. CPI(M) supporters took out numerous processions in Kolkata and its outskirts, asking people to attend the political programme.

Ailing former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, 76, expressed anguish over not being able to attend the rally because of his health condition.

“I am getting a lot of information about the Brigade rally. I cannot explain the anguish I am going through for not being able to attend it. My comrades are fighting on the ground, while I am following the advice of doctors because of my illness. I could never imagine that I will be confined to my home while a meeting will be on at the Maidans. I wish it success,” Bhattacharjee said in a message that was released by his party on Saturday night.

CPI(M) leaders said Bhattacharjee was extremely unwell when the Left Front held its last rally at the Brigade grounds prior to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Yet, he came to the venue in a car and stayed for some time although doctors did not allow him to leave the vehicle. On Sunday, a speech by Bhattacharjee may be read out, CPI(M) leaders said.

Asking the crowd to oust the TMC government and defeat the BJP, Yechury said, “Many people ask me what will we do if the poll verdict leads to a hung assembly. I ask them to pose the question to chief minister Mamata Banerjee because she has forged alliances with the BJP several times. Don’t be surprised if she joins hands with the BJP again to save her seat. We won’t be able to save India unless we defeat both these parties.”

Jenny Smith, is a member of the YCL’s Birmingham branch

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