Trinamool Congress chief and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is likely to demand bringing back ballot papers to conduct future elections at the Martyrs’ Day rally in Esplanade on Sunday.
The Martyrs’ Day rally, held on July 21 every year, is Banerjee’s flagship political event. It is a mass rally that she addresses in the heart of Kolkata to commemorate the police firing in the state capital during the Left Front regime on July 21, 1993, in which 13 Youth Congress workers were killed. Banerjee was a leader of the Youth Congress at that time.
Sources said poll strategist Prashant Kishor and his team will be present at the rally.
Ahead of the rally, Banerjee has accused the BJP-led Central government of trying to foil her party’s ‘Martyrs Day’ rally by operating only 30 per cent of the trains usually run on other Sundays.
The TMC also filed an FIR against BJP state president Dilip Ghosh for allegedly threatening to drag TMC leaders out of buses on their way to the rally, if they failed to return the “cut money” they had collected from people.
“I have heard that the railways will not operate the usual number of trains tomorrow at the behest of the BJP. I have information that they will run only 30 per cent of the trains usually run on Sundays. This is not right,” Banerjee said.
To attend the Martyrs’ Day rally, party workers have come from several districts, including Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur and Malda. They have been accommodated at makeshift shelters in four camps across the city — Gitanjali Stadium in south Kolkata, Central Park in Salt Lake, Uttirna in Alipore and Khudiram Anushilan Kendra in central Kolkata.
The rally comes weeks after Banerjee taking on party leaders and public representatives for taking illegal commission or cut money from people to facilitate government schemes. TMC leaders are waiting to see the message she delivers from the dais — like she has done at Martyrs’ Day rallies earlier, setting the political roadmap for the party.
The TMC, which won 22 seats in the Lok Sabha polls — 12 less than 2014 — is under pressure from the BJP, which won 18 seats from a mere two seats in 2014. Since then, a large number of TMC leaders and councillors from various ruling party-led civic bodies have defected to the BJP.