In the aftermath of BJP’s debacle in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, the opposition parties have got momentum and confidence that the impossible is possible and that is to dethrone Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of the country and BJP as the ruling party at the Centre. Rahul Gandhi too seems evolving and now with Priyanka Gandhi actively involved in politics, Congress too got some oxygen. In Uttar Pradesh, the alliance of arc rivals, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party also gave way to the regional parties to play a decisive role in the coming general elections.
Now the question is: Who is the next leader, who can lead the country? If claims are to be made, everyone is in the race except Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who has recently declared that he’ll support anyone for the post of Prime Minister except Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah. Congress is confident and certainly would project Rahul Gandhi as the Congress party’s prime ministerial candidate in the coming elections.
Amidst all these equations in the national politics, Mamata Banerjee has emerged as the uniting force for all the opposition parties, mainly the regional parties seeking to overthrow BJP in the Lok Sabha elections and this was in full display at the Brigade rally on 19th January 2019, named as United India Rally for the first time.
Also, if we analyse, out of 543 parliamentary constituencies, Congress is strong in 123 constituencies, whereas the regional parties together are strong in more than 250 constituencies and since BJP came to power, Mamata Banerjee has been playing an important role in uniting the regional parties. She has even approached the Left parties for an alliance against BJP.
Apart from Congress, Mamata Banerjee has emerged as the only leader, who has given opposition an united face, which is evident when more than 20 opposition leaders attended Mamata’s mega United India Rally, which includes three, chief ministers Arvind Kejriwal, N. Chandrababu Naidu and H.D. Kumaraswamy and three dissident BJP leaders and former Ministers. Following is the list of leaders, who attended the rally: H. D. Deve Gowda – Former Prime Minister, HD Kumaraswamy – Chief Minister of Karnataka, Janata Dal (Secular), Arvind Kejriwal – Chief Minister of Delhi, Aam Aadmi Party, Akhilesh Yadav – Samajwadi Party, N Chandrababu Naidu – Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Telugu Desam Party, Sharad Pawar – Nationalist Congress Party, Tejashwi Yadav – Rashtriya Janata Dal, Mallikarjun Kharge – Indian National Congress, Abhishek Manu Singhvi – Indian National Congress, Satish Mishra – Bahujan Samaj Party, MK Stalin – Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Yashwant Sinha – Former Union Minister, Arun Shourie – Former Union Minister, Shatrughan Sinha – Senior BJP leader, Farooq Abdullah – National Conference, Omar Abdullah – National Conference, Gegong Apang – Former Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Jignesh Mevani – MLA of Gujarat Assembly, Hardik Patel – Youth leader from Gujarat, Hemant Soren – Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Sharad Yadav – Former Member of Parliament, Ajit Singh – Rashtriya Lok Dal, Baduruddin Ajmal – All India United Democratic Front, Pu Lalduhoma – Zoram Nationalist Party
Mamata started the rally with two young speakers and critical force from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat, Patidar leader Hardik Patel and Jignesh Mevani. They were followed by all the opposition leaders on the dais.
Mamata started her speech boosting the presence of more than 20 political parties, which made the day historic as ‘United India Rally’. She said, “Modi’s expiry date (like medicines) has come. We have taken the pledge to work together. Bangla’s land is a holy land. It is the land of freedom struggle as well as the renaissance. Bangla has shown way to the country during the freedom struggle as well as during the cultural reawakening.” She concluded her speech with a clarion call to unite everyone against BJP, giving away the slogan “BJP hatao, Desh bachao”.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was at Silvassa, the capital of the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, on that day, targeted the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ by opposition parties, calling it a combination of all the opposition parties, whom he has prevented from looting India.
Addressing a public function, Modi said, “The Mahagathbandhan or grand alliance is not against Narendra Modi, but it is against the people of India. My actions against corruption made some people angry as I prevented them from looting public money.” He also added: “BJP has only one MLA in West Bengal, but still they are so afraid of us that they are saying ‘bachao’ means save us.”
Though, it seems to be a united force, there may be differences in future. But from the recent rally in Kolkata, it is clear that one cannot ignore Mamata Banerjee, who has a history of making impossible, possible, as in the past she overthrew 34 years of Left rule from Bengal. And in the coming general elections, the regional parties are going to play an important role in determining the future destiny of the country.
By Joydeep Dasgupta from Kolkata