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Congress’ mega opposition rally now a solo Rahul show as Mamata & Naidu decide to skip it

Congress's planned mega opposition rally in Guwahati on 26 February has now become a booth workers' rally.

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New Delhi: The Congress party’s plan to hold a mega rally in Guwahati on 26 February has now been scuttled as senior opposition leaders N. Chandrababu Naidu of the TDP and Trinamool Congress’ Mamata Banerjee have decided to give it a miss.

The development comes as yet another indication of differences among the non-Bharatiya Janata Party opposition parties trying to stitch together a pre-poll alliance before the Lok Sabha elections due in April-May.

With both the Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal chief ministers skipping the rally, it is now going to be Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s solo show in Guwahati, a senior Congress leader confirmed to ThePrint on condition of anonymity.

Another senior Congress leader who did not wish to be named said the Assam unit had officially announced what was earlier set to be a major opposition rally.

“There was to be some announcement related to the Citizen Amendment Bill also, but even on that issue there wasn’t consensus among the opposition parties and so it has been postponed,” the Congress leader said.

“The rally is being organised by the Pradesh Congress and now it will be a booth workers rally. Earlier it was to be a mega rally of opposition leaders but as it didn’t suit the convenience of the leaders, it will not see their participation,” said Ripun Bora, president of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee.

“This will be a major rally as part of election preparation.”

Banerjee’s issues

The Congress had to redo the plan as Banerjee wasn’t keen to attend the rally after the Gandhis gave her ‘United India’ rally in West Bengal in January a miss, a third senior Congress leader said on condition of anonymity.

The Congress was represented at the Kolkata event by senior leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

Officially, Banerjee’s office told ThePrint that a meeting of opposition parties is scheduled for 26 February in New Delhi and she is likely to attend it.

The opposition meeting has been called to discuss the draft common minimum programme with the other leaders who are likely to be part of the pre-poll alliance.

Also read: BJP and Assam’s AGP make moves to patch up for Lok Sabha polls as Citizenship Bill lapses

Naidu going to Delhi too

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu is also likely to attend the 26 February meeting in New Delhi.

“A Congress delegation led by former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi had met Naidu in Amaravati last month and sought his support against the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill. They also invited Naidu to come to Guwahati,” Naidu’s office told ThePrint.

“But since he is likely to be in Delhi on 26 February, he won’t be able to attend the Guwahati rally,” it said.

What Congress is doing

Earlier this month, Gandhi had skipped the Delhi rally organised by the Aam Aadmi Party, although he was in the city.

The rally was attended by several opposition leaders, including Banerjee, Naidu, Nationalist Congress Party’s Sharad Pawar, National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s Kanimozhi. The Congress was represented by senior leader Anand Sharma.

The Congress president, however, attended a dinner meeting of opposition leaders called by Pawar at his residence in the evening later the same day.

The opposition parties announced after the dinner meeting that they will get into a pre-poll alliance at the national level.

Now, the Assam unit of Congress has started preparations for the 26 February rally. A meeting of state unit leaders, MLAs was held on Wednesday to take stock of the rally’s preparations.

Also read: Congress says it’s open to alliance with AGP in Assam, gets the cold shoulder

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  1. Two PM candidates and a big turncoat have shown their natural colors. Coming events cast their shadows. But it is really heartening to see the way the rally rattled.

  2. Congress can never shed its arrogance and smugness, really believing that its dynasty is Divinely ordained to rule India and that Modi is a mere usurper who has “SOMEHOW” managed to occupy the PM’s chair when Sonia and Rahul were not looking. They have little going for them to be putting on such airs, and picking and choosing allies, expecting the latter to bow before them, instead of treating them as equals, or even betters, considering their own poor show. The so called ‘win’ in the 3 states has gone to their heads ( though MP is hardly a win) and they now believe that it is just a matter of a couple of months before Raga sits in the PM’s chair and all will be well with the world.. They have a RUDE shock waiting and it will hit worse than even in 2014, when Raga was grinning at the media, even as Sonia was grimly putting on a brave face for the cameras.

  3. The Congress seems sometimes to start baking its cake, deciding on the icing, even before the eggs and flour are in position. It needs, not out of cynicism but genuine conviction, to forge a more cooperative approach to smaller allies who will take it to 272. It does not have to look far to realise what hubris can do to an unstoppable force of nature. CM Mamata Banerjee and CM CBN – whose prime ministerial ambitions are unlikely to be realised – are senior figures, deserving of the highest respect.

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