Trinamool Congress Leader Abhishek Banerjee And BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari In Show Of Strength As Bengal Braces For Double Rally

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Abhishek Banerjee and Suvendu Adhikari will be addressing rallies at each other’s ‘home’ turfs today

Kolkata:

Ahead of the panchayat elections in West Bengal next year, ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and principal opposition BJP are taking the battle to each other’s doorsteps – literally.

While the TMC’s national General Secretary and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee will be holding a rally in Contai today, Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari will be addressing a rally in Diamond Harbour almost around the same time.

Contai is considered to be the ‘home’ turf of BJP leader Mr Adhikari, while Mr Banerjee is the sitting Lok Sabha member from the Diamond Harbour constituency.

The last time around, there was massive violence in the panchayat elections in Bengal.

The BJP had moved the Calcutta High Court to stop the rally near Mr Adhikari’s house in Contai, but the court said in a democracy, everyone is allowed to hold a rally and issued instructions to ensure that all norms are followed.

Senior TMC leader and Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim, commenting on the BJP’s rally in Diamond Harbour, told reporters yesterday: “There is no point in jumping around. BJP is not even present within 100km. They are going to court, jumping around. They are trying to show that it’s a big thing, but the reality is that they don’t have an existence in Bengal. You will see this in the panchayat polls and the Lok Sabha elections..”

Targeting Mr Adhikari’s rally, Mr Hakim said: “It doesn’t matter to us. Abhishek’s rally will see the participation of lakhs of people, while the BJP rally will see participation of a few thousands only.”

Taking a dig at the BJP-run central government and the media, Mr Hakim added: “But you will only have to show the dais or else your satellite licence will be cancelled.”

Mr Adhikari responded by saying: “They are getting people from eight to ten districts and they have been making arrangements for the last two months. We had planned a meeting at Kulpi in South 24-Parganas, but they stopped it with the help of the police. Now the court has allowed the Diamond Harbour meeting to go ahead and it will happen.”

When asked about his rally venue being covered with TMC party flags, Mr Adhikari said: “Everyone has the right to put up their flags on the road, but they cannot do it at the rally venue. That venue belongs to the Union government. That isn’t the property of Mamata Banerjee. The venue is a lighthouse under the Union Ministry of Shipping. Those [TMC] flags can’t be put up there.”

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