Mamata’s mega Kolkata rally to test the unity of Opposition

With the formalization of SP, BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh, the major state that contributes 80 MPs so called efforts for opposition unit against BJP turned futile. Now, the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s mega rally in Kolkata’s Parade Ground on January 19 turns to be another  acid test for the opposition unity.

It may be recalled that all these leaders have been proposing for the last two year that they should field a single candidate against BJP in almost all constituencies in the country. In each state, the party having more influence should take lead in arriving seat sharing with remaining opposition parties. But, both Akhilesh Yadav and Mayavati has unilaterally kept Congress out of the process in their state. Even they kept out Ajit Singh’s RLD, which is also having significant influence in a part of the state.

Now, Mamata seems to be repeating the same exercise. Intentionally, she didn’t invite Congress supreme leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. According to political observers, her rally has a two-pronged purpose. On one hand, it will be Mamata’s show of strength, and on the other, it will be a test of the Opposition’s unity.

Her main grouse in projecting Rahul Gandhi as an alternate to Prime Minister Narendra Modi was basically due to her strong desire to project herself as Prime Ministerial candidate. This mega rally seems to be a step in that direction only. That is why all eyes are on the upcoming rally to see who turns up. Thought both Congress and BSP have sent a participation confirmation, chiefs of both the parties are unlikely to attend. Left is also unlikely to respond to her invitation.

However, all other stalwarts of the Opposition will attend the rally.  Akhilesh Yadav and Tejashwi Yadav will certainly be a part of Mamata’s rally, as will Sharad Pawar. Sharad Yadav — who has formed the Loktantrik Janata Dal —will also attend. Former PM HD Deve Gowda will also participate, and Arvind Kejriwal has also given his consent.

Interestingly, Mamata has invited chief ministers of both the Telugu states- Chandrababu Naidu and K Chandrasekhar Rao, though both of them are in confrontation stage as of now. While Chandrababu Naidu is promoting opposition unity making Rahul Gandhi as central figure, KCR is seeking non-BJP and non-Congress unity. But other opposition leaders are suspecting his intentions believing he his playing the game of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring a division in opposition unity.

From the DMK, either Stalin or Kanimozhi will participate in the mega rally. As BJD chief and Assam chief minister Naveen Patnayak has made it clear that he will not be joining any front at national level, he may depute some representation from his party.

It is clear that Mamata is trying to bring all anti-BJP parties on her dais, which is why she has invited several activists and leaders who are against the party. Jignesh Mevani, who is an Independent MLA from Gujarat, has also been invited. Three former ministers of the BJP — Shatrughan Sinha, Yashwant Sinha, and Arun Shourie — have also received an invite, and are likely to be present in the rally.

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