Kicking off its Bengal campaign the 'grand alliance' - Congress, Left and ISF addressed a joint rally on Sunday at Kolkata's Brigade Parade Ground, vowing to defeat BJP and Trinamool in the upcoming polls. Top leaders like Chattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, CPI general secretary D Raja, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, ISF chief Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui addressed the massive rally which 8 lakh people attended. Bengal is set to go to polls in 8 phases - March 27, April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29 with results to be announced on May 2.
Numbers have a habit of revealing the truth and the 8-lakh strong crowd at our rally in Kolkata reveals one definite truth: the people of West Bengal stand with progress, justice & equality not with hatred, violence & megalomania. pic.twitter.com/izfA1fFT4K— Congress (@INCIndia) February 28, 2021
The rally ran into trouble when Chowdhury was angered when Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui got on the stage when he was addressing the rally. As Chowdhury walked off, Left Front chairman Biman Bose asked him to speak later. Congress' Bengal plans has run into trouble after it was unable to forge an alliance with Indian Secular Front (ISF) - which has already gotten 30 seats of its choice from the Left. Siddiqui has stated that he will contest on 70-80 seats, demanding the Nandigram seat - where Mamata Banerjee will face Suvendu Adhikari. Siddiqui, who has also held talks with AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, has stated that he will not field candidates where AIMIM is contesting.
Addressing the rally, CM Bhupesh Baghel said, " Bengal is the soil that has given many brave heroes to the country. What Bengal thinks today, the country thinks tomorrow. We have fought against the British under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi." Meanwhile, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that both Modi and Mamata Banerjee have 'destroyed democracy to establish an autocratic state'.
"Even though both Modi and Mamata have come to power by democratic means but both are now out to destroy democracy and establish an autocratic state. We shall restore democracy on coming to power. We have to fight unitedly against TMC and BJP. I want to say those who are spreading misinformation, change your mind. We have to stop BJP and TMC, both parties," said Chowdhury.
Commenting on PM Modi's 'Andolanjeevi' jibe, CPI general secretary said, "Our country and its constitution should be saved from Modi. He called us Andolanjivi. Yes, I am, I am fighting to save my life and my country. TMC and BJP, both parties are the same, we have to defeat them any cost. Save Bengal, Save country. I am appealing to all for supporting left-Cong and ISF in the next election." His peer - CPI(M) general secy Sitaram Yechury said, "We have safe our country from kalyug's avatar, we have to fight against this avatar".
Meanwhile, Siddiqui said, " Democratic secular grand alliance is need of the hour. TMC has squeezed democratic space. Joblessness has increased, attacks on women has increased and above all they have given space to BJP. Both these evil forces will have to be defeated."
Recently, the Congress-Left alliance have had seat-sharing talks for all 294 seats in Bengal Assembly, but refused to share the formula agreed upon. As of January 28, the parties decided that among the total 193 seats, the Left will fight in 101, while Congress will contest in 92 seats. The remaining 101 seats will be decided later, said Congress. Now, ISF, which wants to 70-80 seats, has joined the alliance but has been unable to strike a deal with Congress yet.
West Bengal has 30% Muslim population -- a deciding factor in around 100-110 seats. In case of a close contest, the Left-Congress-ISF alliance will become a deciding factor. In 2016, the Congress and Left Front had fought together and bagged 77 seats in the 294-member assembly. The alliance broke after the CPI(M)-led Left Front walked away. While Congress has allied with the Left in its bid to end Mamata Banerjee's 10-year term and fight an emerging BJP in Bengal, Congress is the prime opponent against the Left government in Kerala.