Braving the rain, thousands of Trinamool supporters from across the State are heading towards the venue at Esplanade in central Kolkata to host the 17th edition of West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s annual July 21 rally.
“Like every year, we are organizing our annual #21JulyShahidDibas rally in Dharmatala. Our workers and supporters from across #Bengal and other States have come to the city. We welcome one and all. Dharmatala Chalo (Come to Esplanade),” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made for the rally. “About 6,000 police personnel will be deployed on July 21 for the rally,” Supratim Sarkar, Joint Commissioner of Kolkata Police (Headquarters) said.
Unlike previous years, there is no Mukul Roy or Madan Mitra, and the gathering is being organized by the chief minister’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee, himself, chief of the Trinamool’s youth wing. Some things, however, will not change. Lakhs of supporters will rally at Esplanade East in central Kolkata, throwing the city into chaos and bringing traffic to a standstill for a few hours.
Like every year, Banerjee is likely to spell out her political strategy ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls. “We will fight 2019 alone in Bengal. We will help them in Delhi but in Bengal, the CPM, the BJP, Congress fight against us. Next year, on July 21, we will celebrate our victory across the country,” Mamata Banerjee said today at the Martyrs Day rally.
In a veiled attack at the PM, referring to the tent collapse at the Midnapore rally, West Bengal said, “Those who can’t make a tent want to build a country.”
Several Opposition party leaders are expected to join Trinamool at the rally. Expelled Communist Party of India (Marxist) MP Ritabrata Banerjee and senior CPI(M) leader and former MP from Murshidabad Moinul Hassan are expected to join Trinamool along with former BJP MP Chandan Mitra, who is already seen sharing the stage with Mamta Banerjee as she addresses the crowd.
The West Bengal ruling party observes July 21 every year as ‘Shahid Dibas’ or Martyr’s Day to pay homage to the youth Congress workers who were killed in police firing on July 21, 1993.
As the cadres say that the party members would pledge in the presence of lakhs of people that we would not allow any communal tensions to flare up within Bengal or in India, many opposition members maintain that the event is a farce.
Last year BJP state chief Dilip Ghosh has accused the TMC of holding the rally for political gains. “None of the martyrs (those killed in 1993 firing) have got justice. The person who shot them was an officer then and today he is a minister in the TMC. He is governing the country,” Ghosh said.
Meanwhile, the Left had slammed the Trinamool Congress for not taking a firm stand on findings of the inquiry report, the Congress had stated that TMC has no connection with what happened in 1993.
“July 21 is supposed to remember the martyrs of 1993. The TMC was not even formed back then. In fact, many of the people who were directly or indirectly responsible for the firing are now holding positions in the state government. We observe Martyrs’ Day, our Youth Congress does it every year. I would also like to point out that the government could have taken so many steps in the last six years to help the victims’ families, but Mamata Banerjee has not done so. Even the inquiry report has not seen the light of day. So Martyrs’ Day is all a farce. It has nothing to do with remembering the Youth Congress activists, who were killed in police firing under the Left Government,” OP Mishra of the Congress said last year.