Thousands gather to hear Mamata protest against FDI
It was a packed house at Jantar Mantar to support the Trinamool Congress chief’s campaign against FDI in retail
With thousands of supporters present at her rally, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s sealed her show of strength at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Monday, 1 October. Merely a fortnight after she withdrew support from the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre, Banerjee was in the national capital to protest against the government’s decision to introduce Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail, diesel price hike and cap on subsidised LPG cylinders.
Protests on these issues have been held as a part of Bharat bandh, which took place on 20 September, by all major political parties both in Delhi and other states as well. Banerjee stayed away from these planning her own protest in Delhi. Party cadres were roped in from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. Thousands of people had come to listen to the Trinamool chief. It was perhaps for the first time that such a formidable gathering had come to Delhi for a Trinamool Congress (TMC) dharna.
Banerjee did not disappoint the people who had gathered, as she announced further rallies in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi starting November. The moot point of the rally was to show the ill effects of FDI in retail and how the UPA government is taking the aam aadmi for a ride. In fact, she went on to say that if the need so arises, she will bring a ‘no confidence’ motion against the government. She also added that TMC will support a resolution against FDI in multi-brand retail in Parliament.
Sharad Yadav, president of Janta Dal (United) JD(U) was also present on the stage with Banerjee. Monday’s rally also provided a sneak peek into the new alliances that are emerging prior to the scheduled General Elections in 2014. It is widely known that the TMC from West Bengal, JD(U) from Bihar and Biju Janta Dal (BJD) from Odisha can evolve into a formidable political block. These are parties, which are looking out for a non-Congress, non-BJP front. The writing on the wall is clear—there can be a meeting of minds between these three parties. All the three parties enjoy considerable support in their respective states along with being ruling parties in their states. These states have roughly 100 candidates, which they send to Lok Sabha.
While the Congress chose to underplay the protest, the party’s spokesperson Manish Tewari said, “We respect the West Bengal CM, but she should realise when a demonstrator should become a good administrator. As far as Sharad Yadav is concerned, he was on Anna Hazare's stage also.”