West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will address a mega Martyrs' Day rally in Kolkata today, the first after facing a drubbing in recently held Lok Sabha Elections. The Trinamool Congress chief is expected to announce future programs of her party with main on Assembly Elections due in the state in 2021. She is expected to detail a roadmap to TMC workers for combating an aggressive Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Banerjee will highlight ‘save democracy’ and demand bringing back ballot papers to replace electronic voting machines (EVMs) in conducting elections at Sunday's rally, sources said.
Martyrs Day is observed annually by Trinamool Congress on July 21 to commemorate the killings of 13 people in police firing in 1993, when Banerjee, then a Youth Congress leader, had launched a march to the secretariat, demanding that voters' card be made the only document to allow people to exercise their franchise. The Left Front was in power in the state at that time.
Poll strategist Prashant Kishor and his team will also be present at the rally to understand the mindset of the people of the state before the Assembly elections, sources in the party said.
A formal invitation for the rally had been sent to Kishor, a senior Trinamool Congress leader told PTI.
Kishor's men from his Indian Political Action Committee (IPAC) would mingle among the crowd during the rally to understand the public mood before they came up with a "political dawai (strategy)" for the 2021 polls, he said.
After the Lok Sabha polls, in which the BJP made major inroads in West Bengal winning 18 of the 42 seats, the TMC roped in Kishor last month. Banerjee had claimed that the poll strategist would be helping her party as corporate social responsibility.
Since then, Kishor has held three meetings with Banerjee, in which he has chalked out strategies for TMC ministers, leaders and workers.
The poll strategist was also present at a recently-held meeting with the party's district presidents.
Meanwhile, Mamata has accused the BJP-led Central government of trying to foil her party's rally by operating only 30 per cent of the trains usually run on other Sundays. It has 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.
Her party said it apprehended that the BJP is doing this to prevent Trinamool supporters from coming to the city to take part in the rally.