Kolkata: This is something Kolkata has never seen before: That was how former Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee started his speech, acutely aware how unprecedented a frame he presented, sharing stage with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in Kolkata on Wednesday at Park Circus Maidan.
“Why am I here with Rahul Gandhi? Because we understand that there is danger ahead. This government is ruining West Bengal. And we cannot do this on our own. We need to do it together,” Mr Bhattacharjee said, underscoring how important the tie-up was to the CPM’s state leaders.
Taking a swipe at the ruling Trinamool and the BJP, Rahul Gandhi said, “Mamata and Modi both made promises”. The Chief Minister, he said, promised jobs and the Prime Minister created Make in India. But the promises of neither have been fulfilled, he said.
Dismissing the fights between the BJP and the Trinamool, he said, “Modi and Mamata make allegations against each other. It’s ‘Sajano ladai’ (fake fight)… Mamata had said BJP is a natural ally.”
After 34 years in power in Bengal, the CPM had been trounced by Trinamool Congress in the 2011 assembly elections. But the party saw an opportunity for a comeback in the growing corruption charges against Trinamool. The tie-up with traditional rival Congress is a mark of its determination.
But the presence of Mr Bhattacharjee – the state’s tallest leader — with Rahul Gandhi at today’s rally in Kolkata, is meant as a special gesture. Last week, senior CPM leader Sitaram Yechury had failed to share stage with senior Congress leader and candidate from Singur Adhir Ranjan Choudhury. When he spoke, he had nothing to say about the alliance.
The Central leadership of the CPM has insisted there is nothing official about the tie-up, which they claim has been brought about by the insistence of the local leaders.