Bengal polls: Left, Cong joint rally at Kolkata


For the first time, the CPM-led Left Front and the Congress are going to hold a joint rally at Kolkata’s Brigade Parade ground on Sunday, in a bid to display the strength of the Third Front ahead of the high-voltage West Bengal Assembly polls.

Hooghly’s Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui-led Indian Secular Front (ISF) will also take part in the mega rally.

Thousands of Left and Congress supporters from various West Bengal districts started pouring into Kolkata by trains and busses since Saturday night. Camps were opened at Howrah and Sealdah railway station – two major railheads in eastern India. Both the parties took out numerous processions, ran extensive campaigns on social media asking people to attend the rally.

But the three-party electoral coalition will miss its poster boy and former West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at the rally as he won’t be able to attend the meeting this time owing to poor health. The Left leadership in Bengal wanted Bhattacharjee to be present at the mega show and requested the former CPI-M politburo member.

But at the last moment, the ex-CM sent a written communication to the party saying he won’t be to able to make it.

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechuri, state secretary Sujyakanta Mishra, Left Front chairman Biman Bose, Congress state president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, ISF’s Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui and other leaders will be present at the programme. Congress leader and Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel will be there at the rally too, sources said.

The Left-Congress and ISF coalition will launch the poll campaign from the mammoth rally in order to mark the beginning of their canvassing for the forthcoming Assembly election.

Left front chairman Biman Bose went to the parade ground on Saturday afternoon to take a stock of the preparations. He said: “This will be one of the biggest brigade meetings ever. As far as the estimates we are getting, the entire brigade ground is going to be chockablock.”

The Left Front and the Congress have already finalised a seat-sharing agreement. Talks between the Left and ISF have also been sealed as both the parties have agreed upon 30 seats for the newly-floated political outfit. Sources, however, said that the seat-sharing negotiation between the Congress and the ISF is still underway.

“The coalition is to offer an alternative to the anti-people and communal politics of the Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP),” said senior Congress leader Pradip Bhattacharya.