They came, they spoke, they conquered...
The Opposition leaders garnered much applause from the mammoth crowd as they spoke of unity and change
Kolkata: People from all parts of the state who converged at the "United India" rally at the Brigade Parade Ground had a clear idea about its theme — the ouster of Narendra Modi government at the Centre and a new government at the Capital. The placards and banners that dominated the processions all over the state had messages like Modi Hatao Desh Bachao (Remove Modi to save the country) — a call that Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee has been advocating for quite sometime now.
To add a little element of humour, the Opposition stalwarts from across the nation received huge applause for their repeated amusing digs at the Modi government during the anti-BJP rally.
"The expiry date of BJP-government is over. So the New Year will be a fresh change," Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, the organiser of the rally, said as she began her address.
Fond of poetry, the TMC leader coined interesting Bengali phrases "Bajar e legeche aagun jagun Bangla jagun' (Market is on fire, Bengal wake up), "Loot er takay vote lootche shob note" (Votes are conducted using looted money) and "Onek hoyeche Acche din, Ebar BJP ke baad din' (Enough of 'Acche Din', get rid of BJP now).
National Conference president Farooq Abdullah took a swipe at the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) calling it a 'chor machine' (stealing machine).
Referring to what he called 'vindictive and undemocratic' nature of the present government, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said: "Years ago after Laluji's (RJD chief Lalu Prasad) rally in Bihar, an income tax notice was issued but no one questioned Amit Shah's repeated rallies in Uttar Pradesh. This is this Central government's double standard."
"Aaj agar kahe tussi great ho koi notice nahi aayega (If one praise the government and speaks of its greatness there would no notice be send against them)," Singhvi said in jest. Urging the people not to vote in any BJP-led coalition again, Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav said 'the party must be submerged in the river Ganga'.
Directly targeting the Prime Minister, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav said: "Modiji is a factory, manufacturer and distributor of lies. He can give 10 lies free along with one lie. His promises are all fake, so we need to be cautious".
Hundreds and thousands of party supporters thronged the venue with posters and placards. The area brimmed with desperate hopefuls wishing for a change at the Centre.
A fan of the Trinamool Congress supremo drew attention with a chariot titled 'Mamata Rath'. The chariot was elaborately decorated with cut-outs and photos of the Trinamool Congress supremo. The wooden chariot with two rubber wheels reached the Brigade Parade Ground at 9 am in the morning. "I want to see Mamata Banerjee as the Prime Minister. The chariot is "Bijoy Rath" signifying her victory. It took me six months to make the structure with pieces of wood and then adorning it," said sexagenarian Sunil Madhab Kundu who has come from Sealdah pulling his chariot all the way.
Another thing that caught attention was a battery-powered autorickshaw popularly known as "toto" on Red Road. The roof of the vehicle was covered with green grass with models of tigers made of cotton on it. People were busy taking selfies with the vehicle at the background. When asked about tigers being placed on the top, the driver from Howrah's Liluah said: "Didi is the tiger of Bengal. There are a few leaders in the country who are as courageous as her. So I have placed them at the top of my vehicle."
Chunilal Soren who had come all the way from Jangalmahal, Lalgarh, to see Mamata Banerjee addressing the rally, said: "She is like a God for us. Our entire Jangalmahal has witnessed a sea change due to the massive development work undertaken by her government. We would love to see her as the leader of the country as she would undertake similar development for the entire country like she has done in Bengal," he said.
The other banners that drew a lot of attention carried messages on communal harmony. "Bengal is a land of peace and harmony with a rich heritage of culture and tradition and our Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is fighting hard so that common people are not deprived of their rights. So we have brought banners on this theme," Subho Nag Chowdhury, a party worker from South 24-Parganas, said.
Singers, authors and Tollywood actors added colour to the rally and were seated in a separate stage made adjacent to the main dais of the Brigade Parade Ground.
The green patch at the heart of the city witnessed a record turnout. The venue featured the who's who of Opposition politics in the country who not only came from far and wide to support the united Opposition but also won the hearts of those who attended the rally in huge numbers.