In the showpiece event marking the Left-Congress understanding in West Bengal, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Rahul Gandhi shook hands Wednesday and confidently assured a massive crowd that they would win.
“We have gathered news from all over Bengal. And according to this news, the Left-Congress alliance is winning,” former chief minister Buddhadeb said in their joint rally at Kolkata’s Park Circus Maidan. “We are winning. So stand in queues, do not let your vote go waste. Whether you attain victory through the Congress, whether you get victory through the Left, you will be victorious.”
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Rahul Gandhi echoed him, saying the alliance will win. Their confidence seemed to reflect in the cheering crowds as they held aloft the bright red flag of the Left and the tricolour of the Congress.
“I have supported the CPM for 20 years,” said Jayashree Basu, 55. “Yes we lost last time. But can’t you feel it in the air, we are winning this time again.”
The alliance’s candidate in this constituency, Ballygunge, is a Congressman. The crowd chanted “Lal salaam, Bhattacharjee”.
“You can understand the importance of this — something Bengal has never seen before, something Kolkata has never seen before,” Buddhadeb said. “The Congress and the Left are standing here before you, together. Why do you think we are standing here together, why did we have to come together, why have I done this meeting with Rahul Gandhi? Because the danger to the state is so ominous, the present government so terrifying, that we have understood that only by standing together can we save Bengal. Trinamool hatao, Bengal Bachao.”
He targeted the Trinamool Congress government on various issues — “finished economy”, shut factories and tea gardens, lack of jobs, high prices, women’s safety — and concluded: “The Trinamool must be removed and so must the BJP. There is no room for the BJP in the state of West Bengal. The next government will be ours,’’he said.
When Rahul spoke, he equated CM Mamata Banerjee’s government with PM Narendra Modi’s because, he said, both had failed to deliver on their promises. “When they abuse each other, it is a manufactured anger. It is a manufactured fight,” Rahul said, before ending his speech as Buddhadeb had done, saying their alliance would win.
In the crowd were 12 members of a family of Congress supporters, including cousins Farzana Tabassum, 27, and Amrani Khatoon, 20. “I live in Pune with my husband,” said Amrani. “I have come home to vote. If we are winning, I want to be part of it.”
Farzana is married in Kolkata. “My father says the conditions are ripe, and that at least in our colony the Congress is winning,” she said. “The Trinamool says it will do a lot of things for Muslims but I have seen nothing done so far. The BJP should not even enter the state. The Congress is the right choice for me — woh na Musalmano mein zyada girte hain, na hi Hinduo mein zyada girte hain — I like that about them.”