The Brigade rally jointly held by the CPI-M-led Left front, Congress and the Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui-led Indian Secular Front (ISF) was organised on Sunday to display the strength of a political alternative to the people in West Bengal ahead of the high-octane Assembly elections.
The mega political show was organised at a time when the Left front and the Congress have already finalised on 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.
But the trouble remained over seat-sharing between the Congress and the ISF, as the negotiations between two parties are still underway.
On Sunday, the Congress-ISF disagreement came out in the open when Siddiqui arrived at the Brigade rally and walked up on the dais. Senior Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was addressing the crowed at the time. As people started raising ‘Bhaijaan’ slogans to welcome the ISF chief, Chowdhury had to stop his speech abruptly and tried to get back to his seat. Everyone on the podium stood up to welcome Siddiqui and they exchanged greetings with the ISF chief, but Chowdhury was not seen doing the same.
Left front chairman Biman Bose, CPI-M leaders Md Salim and Suryakanta Mishra came to the scene to convince the Congress parliamentary leader to cool down and not to end his speech, but Chowdhury was seen nodded his head constantly. He even put on the mask that he was wearing. Siddiqui then whispered something to the ears of Chowdhury and finally Biman Bose came and took him to the front row of the stage to deliver his remaining speech.
“This alliance is not based on any religious ground. We want a secular democratic front to be established in Bengal. We want to defeat the communal forces. There will be a fight. We are looking at a rainbow of change,” Chowdhury said.
CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechuri also said that the people of Bengal want a secular, democratic political alternative. “We want a people’s government in West Bengal. We don’t want any divide on the basis of religious affiliations,” he said.
It was the first time that the CPI-M led Left front and the Congress jointly organised a rally at Kolkata’s iconic Brigade parade ground.
Thousands of Left and Congress supporters from various districts came to attend the rally. Camps were opened at Howrah and Sealdah railway stations. Both the parties took out numerous processions and ran extensive campaigns on social media, asking people to attend the political programme.
But the three-party electoral coalition missed its poster boy and former West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at the rally, as he failed to be a part of the meeting this time owing to poor health. The Left leadership in Bengal wanted Bhattacharjee to be present at the mega show. But at the last hour, the ex-CM sent a written communication to the party saying he won’t be to able to make it to the rally because of his ailing health. Wishing the mega political show luck, he further said that mentally he would remain at the Brigade rally, but his physical condition would not permit him to attend it.
Senior Congress leader and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel was also present at the rally.
The Left-Congress and ISF coalition launched its poll campaign from the mega show in order to mark the beginning of their canvassing for the forthcoming Assembly elections.