Congress & Left’s Brigade Rally Turns Out To Be An Abbas Siddiqui Show
Kolkata: Sunday’s rally at Brigade Parade ground, called by the Left Front and Congress, was designed to drum up support for their alliance ahead of the West Bengal assembly polls which kick off in a month’s time.
But there was a twist in the tale. The inclusion of Indian Secular Front (ISF) turned out to be the trump card, making the rally doubly successful and significant.
ISF chief Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui came to the dais when state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was in the middle of his speech. The sudden commotion on the podium, with Left Front leaders standing up to greet him, was an awkward moment for the Congress leader. Adhir, after all, is a multiple time MP from Murshidabad, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha and much senior to Siddiqui, who is a newcomer in electoral politics.
Clearly perturbed, Adhir could be seen ending his speech midway. But what saved the day for the alliance was the intervention of Politburo member Biman Bose and CPI(M) spokesperson Md Salim, who egged on the veteran Congress leader to continue.
Needless to say, the loudest applause from the huge crowd was reserved for the Pirzada of Furfura Sharif. The rally could well be called the Abbas Siddiqui show, as he emerged as the new star of Bengal politics.
Siddiqui had come into limelight when AIMIM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) leader Asaduddin Owaisi visited Furfura Sharif in West Bengal to forge an election alliance late last year.
And when his opportunity came, Siddiqui had a lot to say.
In a subtle reference to the Congress, Siddiqui said, “Bhagidari chai (we want equal status). We are not here to appease anyone (toshon korte ashini). Amra bondhutter haat bariyechi (we have extended our hand of friendship).”
After the rally, he said: “As per our reports, Sonia Gandhi in Delhi wants us to be part of the alliance, but there is someone in state Congress who is not that willing. Our doors are open for any alliance. But time is fast running out. For how long can we wait?”
In his speech, Siddiqui urged supporters of his front to back the Left and its allies’ candidates wholeheartedly to defeat the Trinamool Congress (TMC).
Targeting the ruling TMC and its leader Mamata Banerjee, Siddiqui was caustic.
“We will ensure that Mamata ends up being a zero. She has to be thrown out of power fast. Mamatar dadagiri te keu kotha bolte pare na (no one has the freedom to speak in her autocratic regime).”
Adhir said: “We should unite to free Bengal from communal forces. Under the TMC rule there is no industrialisation. The new government will form soon; it is just a matter of time. The TMC will not get back to power.”
Left Front leader Surjya Kanta Mishra observed that TMC is coming up with a lot of gimmicks.
“From Didi ke Bolo to Duare Sarkar, all are gimmicks. TMC and BJP are communal parties and they will not do anything to uplift the condition of the people.”
Samapta Roy from Baranagar, who arrived at the venue as early as 7 in the morning, said: “The youth should come forward to boost the CPI(M). Due to lack of young faces, the Left Front is not doing well in the polls. But if more young people unite then the Left can only beat the TMC and the BJP.”
Barasat resident Md Jahangir, who had come all the way to listen to the Pirzada remarked that the only alternative for them is the ISF.
“Abbas bhaijaan is a fighter and can bring in ‘parivartan’. Despite being a Muslim, he cares and prays for every religion. CM Mamata Banerjee apparently shows her friendliness towards the Muslims but hasn’t done anything for us,” Jahangir said.
As soon as Siddiqui finished his speech, the crowd started to thin. That should be reason enough for TMC and Congress to worry about their vote base.