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‘Won’t Impose My Opinion’: Host Mamata Says She’ll Take a Backseat at Opposition Rally


Kolkata: In a bid to unite anti-BJP parties ahead of Lok Sabha elections, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she’ll let other regional leaders take the spotlight during the mega opposition rally in Kolkata on Saturday, taking the backseat herself.

Calling the non-BJP leaders her guests, Banerjee said, “Let the leaders coming from other states address the nation from here and shape the Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance). I will listen to them and not impose my opinion.”

“Every party has its own compulsions, vision and philosophy. We respect all of them. As far as the Congress is concerned, I cannot predict how many seats they will win, but the BJP will not cross the 125 mark,” she said.

The BJP had won 282 seats in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Conducting a recce of the venue, the Trinamool Congress chief said the rally will not be used to thrust her in the national spotlight, but will instead serve as a platform for pan-India fight against the BJP, where she will play host to sound the “death knell” for the saffron brigade.

Among those who will address the rally on Saturday are Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, JD(S) chief HD Deve Gowda, Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy, Babulal Marandi of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik), former BJP stalwarts Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, RLD chief Ajit Singh, National Conference chairman Farooq Abdullah, DMK president MK Stalin, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Nationalist Congress Party supremo Sharad Pawar, BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha, former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel, former Arunachal Pradesh CM Gegong Apang and AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal.

Five stages have been erected for the rally, with Mamata sharing the main dais with regional leaders. Twenty-five giant LED screens have been put up to air the event live at the venue and hundreds of loudspeakers have been installed.

TMC workers have been deployed at various railway stations, bus stands, airports and other vital intersections to guide the guests to the venue.

Stringent security arrangements have been made by the Kolkata police. Over 6,000 police personnel will take positions from 7 am. High-rises close to the venue will be manned by snipers. The TMC has also engaged nearly 2,500 party workers to assist the police.

| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta

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