Pitching for a national role for the party and its supremo Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) is all set to hold its annual Martyrs rally in central
Kolkata’s Dharmatala area on Thursday after a two-year pandemic induced break.
Lakhs of people from nearby and far-flung districts are likely to attend the mega rally in the heart of the city, where Banerjee – the West Bengal Chief Minister – is expected to announce a list of fresh
party programmes and campaign schedule in the state, and, may be, even beyond its borders.
Over the past eight years, Banerjee has made repeated efforts to play a prominent part in national politics, but with limited success. Over the past few months, Trinamool has contested elections in Goa and Tripura, but its candidates fared poorly.
Very recently, Banerjee took the initiative to bring the anti-BJP parties together to announce a common opposition candidate. But after her party leader Yashwant Sinha was named as the candidate of the combined opposition, the BJP played what political pundits are calling
a masterstroke by nominating a woman scheduled tribe leader Draupadi Murmu as the nominee
for the country’s top post.
Apprehensive of losing the crucial scheduled tribe votes in various parts of the state – particularly in the western districts – Banerjee never really went full throttle in drumming up support for Sinha, and
even commented that her party would have backed Murmu had the BJP discussed her candidature with the Trinamool in advance. It is also significant that Sinha never campaigned in Trinamool-ruled West
A section of political analysts believes the entire chain of events connected to the presidential polls has not brought any brownie points for the Trinamool as far as Banerjee’s position as a frontline ani-BJP national leader is concerned. The rally thus gives Banerjee a fresh scope to forcefully reiterate her anti-BJP stand in national politics.
At the same time, some top Trinamool functionaries and celebrities could voice their support at the rally for Banerjee leading the anti-BJP parties in the 2024 Lok Sabha vote.
There is also much speculation of some prominent politicians joining the Trinamool at the rally.
The TMC observes July 21 as Martyrs’ Day every year in remembrance of the 13 people killed in police firing in 1993 during a rally of the Youth Congress, of which Mamata Banerjee was then a leader.
On the eve of the rally, Banerjee on Wednesday recalled the “supreme sacrifice” of the 13 political workers.
“21st July 2022 is only a day away and as the preparations near completion, we are brimming with emotions,” Banerjee said.
In the video message, the TMC supremo said, “For generations to come, the entire Trinamool Congress family will unite on every Shahid Dibas and pay our heartfelt tribute to the martyrs. Your blood will never go in vain, we promise!”
The TMC National General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee reviewed the last-minute preparations at Dharmatala on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, leaders, workers and supporters have started coming in groups from the districts for the mega event. The Trinamool has arranged accommodation for the workers and supporters from distant districts at various places including Salt Lake’s Central Park, Kosba Gitanjali Stadium, Khudiram Practice Centre.
According to an official notification, restrictions will be imposed on the movement of goods vehicles within the city from 3 am to 8 pm on Thursday.
“Vehicular traffic will be regulated along the roads and stretches of Amherst Street, Bidhan Sarani, College Street, Brabourne Road, Strand Road, BB Ganguly Street, New CIT Road and Rabindra Sarani,” the notification stated.
Also, vehicle parking has been disallowed for the day near Victoria Memorial, Cathedral Road, Hospital Road, Queensway, Casuarina Avenue and Lovers Lane.
Kolkata Police has wrapped the meeting place in a multi-layered security blanket.