In any other year, the Trinamool Congress machinery in West Bengal would now have been working overtime, getting ready for the annual “Ekushe July” — July 21 — rally in Esplanade East, in the heart of Kolkata. It is perhaps the biggest event in the party’s annual calendar, but will go on virtual mode this year.
A year before the state goes to the Assembly polls, at a time the party is facing one of its biggest threats from an assertive and combative BJP since decimating the 34 years of Left Front hegemony in the state in 2011, the TMC will be forced to take the July 21 rally online due to the coronavirus pandemic. And that has led to some amount of apprehension among a section of party leaders, given the opportunity lost in gauging the public enthusiasm for a third term under Mamata Banerjee.
While the CM is expected to give the call for Assembly elections while addressing the event this Tuesday, senior party leaders are not certain whether this will make the expected impact on party workers.
One senior TMC leader said, “Party workers are used to going to Esplanade for this programme every year — it was our most important programme of the year. We are now busy preparing for it, but (the party’s) organisational capacity and the situation will not be tested this year. We don’t know…we are afraid that this will impact our (party’s) organisation also.”
The mass rally on July 21 each year is organised to commemorate police firing in Kolkata on July 21, 1993 — under the then Left Front government — which killed 13 people during a demonstration by the West Bengal Youth Congress, led by Banerjee at the time.
With Banerjee and the party leadership having called for every possible planning and preparation for the event this year, each TMC party office across the state is organising giant screens to telecast her speech. Leaders and party workers are expecting Banerjee to not only boost the cadres but also start the campaign war against the BJP and Union government through her virtual public address.
Accusing the BJP and its government at the Centre of having neglected West Bengal, especially after the twin-tragedy of the pandemic and Amphan cyclone hit the state this year, a senior party leader said, “The BJP and the Centre helped many states fight against the Covid situation but West Bengal was not only deprived but Delhi even tried to heckle us from time to time. But Mamata Banerjee is a born fighter…. On July 21, we believe she will instruct party workers to intensify the fight against the BJP and the central government.”
At a virtual meeting earlier, Banerjee had asked TMC leaders across the state to start campaigning against the BJP from their homes.
According to TMC sources, Banerjee will also emphasise on transparency at the grassroots level — complaints against the TMC’s grassroots workers became more than just murmurs during Amphan relief work. Banerjee has already stated that the government and the party will not tolerate corruption at the grassroots level, and TMC leaders said she will probably intensify the government’s fight against corruption from the July 21 rally.
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