Can Mamata stage Kolkata-like rally at other corners of India? Her 2014 Delhi rally was a debacle
Kolkata, Jan 22: The mega 'United India' rally which was organised by the ruling party of West Bengal - Trinamool Congress - and featured a number of top leaders and representatives from other anti-BJP parties in Kolkata, was a show of strength of the Opposition against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his saffron force.
The rally was a major success, at least the Opposition thinks so and it believes will boost its electoral chances in the next Lok Sabha election.
There could be one counter point here. In March 2014, just months ahead of the Lok Sabha election that year, Banerjee had also tried to erect a counter narrative. After she was backed by acclaimed anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare as a PM material, the TMC chief had gone to Delhi to attend a rally at the Ramlila Grounds along with Hazare. However, on reaching there, she found that Hazare was not to come on that day and with a very thin audience to hear her, it was a kind of loss of face for the TMC supremo who is a national ambition.
Banerjee certainly was waiting to erase the negative publicity she had got five years ago this time. She went ahead with organising a mega rally in her den - Kolkata and showed the world that she is still the boss at home.
But is that enough for regional leaders like her to gain a pan-Indian stronghold? If Banerjee and other regional satraps who are trying to build an alternative to Modi, it is very important that they also command the same support in areas that are beyond their electoral reach. In the past, Banerjee has shown inclination towards winning polls in other states and holding meetings and rallies outside Bengal. But in effect, those plans did not deliver. The TMC had made some initial inroads in some states in the Northeast but turncoat politics saw the advantage getting neutralised in no time.
After her mega Kolkata success, will Banerjee and the other regional leaders who joined her at the Brigade Parade Grounds plan of holding similar rallies at other corners of the country, just like PM Modi is set to do? If that happens and the rallies get enough response can one conclude that the Opposition is gaining substantial strength. Till then, it's too limited an affair.