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Home / West-bengal / Joint Forum sees hope in Brigade Parade Grounds turnout

Eclectic mix of colours at Brigade show

Joint Forum sees hope in Brigade Parade Grounds turnout

The well-attended rally showed that they were ready to take on the BJP and the Trinamul Congress in the Bengal Assembly polls
Leaders of the Left Front, Congress and the Indian Secular Front at the rally in Calcutta on Sunday.
Leaders of the Left Front, Congress and the Indian Secular Front at the rally in Calcutta on Sunday.
Bishwarup Dutta

Arkamoy Datta Majumdar   |   Calcutta   |   Published 01.03.21, 02:47 AM

The Left Front and the Congress, along with their new partner Indian Secular Front, held their first joint public meeting at the Brigade Parade Grounds in Calcutta on Sunday, prompting the alliance to claim that the well-attended rally showed that they were ready to take on the BJP and the Trinamul Congress in the Bengal Assembly polls.

In what many thought was a historic moment in terms of political alignment, Sunday’s show witnessed leaders of all constituents of the alliance dubbed as the Sanjukta Morcha or the Joint Forum sharing the dais and rolling out claims that they would be the deciding factor in the elections.

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“A Brigade like this has never been seen in the past. All these forces are here together fighting shoulder to shoulder…. There is no doubt that there will be a change in Bengal,” said CPM state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra.

Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury echoed Mishra as he said that he had never spoken at such a huge rally. “The unemployed youths and all the people who have come here today should take a vow that in 2021, you will bring another change in Bengal,” he said.

The ISF founder and Furfura Sharif cleric, Abbas Siddiqui, parroted the theme of the meeting saying the new Front would uproot the BJP and its B-team, Trinamul, from Bengal.

As expected, the show at the Brigade was aimed at contesting the general perception that the battle for Bengal would be a contest between Trinamul and the BJP.

The alliance leaders said the turnout — organisers said the crowd count was 10 lakh while police sources pegged it at around 5 lakh — and the body language of the leaders bore signs that the newly formed Sanjukta Morcha was fast catching the imagination of people of Bengal.

Unlike other Brigade shows of the Left, where the red flag had been the predominant theme, Sunday saw an eclectic mix of the tricolour representing the Congress and the ISF’s white-blue-green flag, along with the red flags.

However, the presence of the Congress’s flag was much lower compared to the other two.

Whatever be the relative contribution of the constituents to the rally, the fact that such a meeting was held just two days after the poll schedule was announced was significant.

In 2016, the Left-Congress alliance had held a single major political programme, on April 27 when only two phases of the polls were left.

At the Park Circus grounds, the rally brought Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Rahul Gandhi together, but it failed to yield any political dividends for the alliance.

Then in 2019, both the Left and the Congress fought separately as negotiations over seat sharing went awry.

“In comparison to the past, this time it appears the alliance is not only on paper... Leaders from all three constituents as well as supporters were here,” a source in the Congress said.

Although the constituents of the fledgling alliance put together a decent show on Sunday, the final test, however, will be how they collectively prepare for the polls and organise ground level activities. While the CPM and the ISF alliance has been sealed, as the latter has been allotted 30 seats to contest, there are hiccups in the seat sharing talks between the Congress and the ISF.

The primary reason for the tussle over seats between the Congress and ISF is that both these entities depend on Muslim votes in districts like Maldah, Murshidabad and North Dinajpur.

Sources in the Congress said that Congress leaders like Chowdhury and Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury were unwilling to sacrifice their seats in Murshidabad and Malda respectively whereas ISF leaders have said that they won’t bow down to the Congress.

Some political observers think if such fissures exist between two alliance partners, it doesn’t bode well for the Front. The fact that the might of the alliance would depend on the extent to which the constituents remain united up to the booth level was stressed by multiple leaders.

“We have to take this alliance to the booth levels,” said Left Front chairman Biman Bose.



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