Opposition leaders have arrived in Kolkata to attend the “United India Rally” called by Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday afternoon.
Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief MK Stalin, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Telugu Desam Party President N Chandrababu Naidu, Janata Dal (Secular) supremo HD Deve Gowda were among the first to meet Banerjee on Friday night, ANI reported.
At least 25 leaders are expected to be on the stage at the event, which is being seen as an effort to unite the Opposition against the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Banerjee tweeted a welcome message to the leaders and urged people to participate in the rally “to pledge to build a stronger, progressive and united India”.
Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Opposition leaders Omar Abdullah, Tejashwi Yadav are also expected to attend the event. Although Bahujan Samaj Party President Mayawati will not attend the rally, senior party leader Satish Chandra Mishra will be in attendance.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has extended support to the rally. Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Abhishek Manu Singhvi will represent the party at the event. The rally will be held at Brigade Parade Ground, and according to estimates provided by the Trinamool Congress, 40 lakh people are expected, NDTV reported.
According to the Hindustan Times, posters and flexes of regional leaders have been put up across the city. “For the first time, all regional parties will be coming under one umbrella,” said Trinamool’s youth wing chief Abhishek Banerjee. “It’s going to be a historic event and millions of people will be present to witness it. This rally will mark the beginning of a new India.”
Bharatiya Janata Party state chief Dilip Ghosh took a dig at the Trinamool Congress for the posters. “TMC has put up photos of leaders some of who are tired while others are retired,” he said. “Is this Didi’s army? She wants to win this battle with generals who have been trounced on their own turf?”