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Crowd test for Trinamul's July 21 rally

Places where the ruling party has stumbled in the Lok Sabha elections have not responded with equal enthusiasm

By TT Bureau in Siliguri/Calcutta
  • Published 20.07.19, 1:23 AM
  • Updated 20.07.19, 1:23 AM
  • 2 mins read
The stage for the July 21 rally in Calcutta. Picture by Pradip Sanyal

Trinamul units in some districts are said to be facing an unprecedented problem: for the first time since the party came to power eight years ago, sections of satraps are struggling to meet the headcount targets set by the state leadership for the biggest event on the party roster — the July 21 “martyrs’ day” rally helmed by Mamata Banerjee.

In the wake of the Lok Sabha elections, in which the BJP made deep inroads into Bengal and won an all-time high of 18 seats, Trinamul wants a redeeming show of support at the annual Esplanade spectacle. But places where the ruling party has stumbled in the elections have not responded with equal enthusiasm.

Sources said the leadership wanted around 10 lakh people for the rally. But sources in several district units said the individual crowd targets seemed difficult to achieve in two vital belts — north Bengal and Jungle Mahal.

In the Lok Sabha polls, Trinamul lost all eight seats in north Bengal, while the BJP won seven and the Congress, one. In Jungle Mahal, Trinamul was defeated in all four seats by the BJP.

“The enthusiasm is definitely low in comparison to previous years. Although it would probably not be discernible at the rally venue, given the number of people we are expecting from our strongholds such as the districts around Calcutta, shoulders have dropped…. Maybe Didi will be able to re-energise the rank and file with a fiery speech on Sunday,” a Trinamul leader said.

He said a key difference this time was that many Trinamul supporters, as opposed to committed party workers, seemed to have lost their fervour a bit. These supporters used to themselves take the initiative of coming to Calcutta.

Till last year, there used to be a sense of urgency among Trinamul supporters to reach Calcutta days in advance. But this time, there seemed to be little enthusiasm in north Bengal and some western districts such as Bankura and Purulia with only two days to the rally.

“For four-five days before the July 21 rally, we used to find it difficult to board Calcutta-bound trains, which would be packed with Trinamul supporters. This year, there is hardly any swell in the crowd,” said Sajal Das, who took a train from New Cooch Behar on Friday.

Trinamul leaders said they would ensure the attendance of at least 10,000 people from each north Bengal district.