Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday announced his party’s support to the ‘united Opposition rally’ planned by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Conrgess in Kolkata on 19 January.
“I extend my support to Mamata Di on this show of unity and hope that we send a powerful message of a united India together,” Rahul said in a statement.
While neither Rahul, nor Sonia Gandhi will be attending the rally, senior leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is also a Rajya Sabha MP from Bengal, will represent the Congress.
Banerjee has said the ‘united Opposition rally’ would sound the “death knell” for the ruling BJP in the coming Lok Sabha polls.
In his statement, Rahul Gandhi said “hundreds of millions of Indians” were angry and disappointed over the “false promises and lies peddled by the Modi Government”, and added: “The entire opposition is united in our belief that true nationalism and development can only be defended on the tested pillars of democracy, social justice and secularism, ideas that the BJP and Mr Modi are intent on destroying.”
Meanwhile, TMC is all geared up for Saturday’s rally that will be held at Kolkata’s Brigade Parade Ground and is all set to be attended by leaders of over 20 opposition parties.
Even as Rahul said in his statement his party commended “the great people of Bengal who have historically been at the forefront of defending our ideals”, Trinamool appears to be banking on the rally to project Mamata Banerjee as a national leader who can work with other parties and challenge the BJP.
Banerjee said on Thursday the regional parties would be the deciding factor in the Lok Sabha polls.
“It will be a ‘United India Rally’ against the misrule of the BJP. It will sound the death knell for the BJP … The saffron party’s seat count in the general election will not cross 125. The number of seats the state parties will win will be much higher than that of the BJP’s,” she claimed.
Among those who have confirmed their presence at rally are chief ministers Arvind Kejriwal, HD Kumaraswamy, N Chandrababu Naidu, former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Akhilesh Yadav, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, DMK leader MK Stalin.
Dissident BJP leaders Shatrughan Sinha, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie will be there too.
Others set to attend the event are BSP general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, RLD leader Ajit Singh, Patidar leader Hardik Patel, Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha’s Babulal Marandi.
Former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Gegong Apang, who quit the BJP on Tuesday, will also be present.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) will not attend the rally, and so other Left parties.
The BJP leadership has mocked the rally, saying the Opposition should decide on its prime ministerial candidate first.