01:18 AM Jul 22, 2021 | ROBIN ROY







The grassroots connect of a leader makes him or her a mass leader and today’s technology can telecast the same neta’s sermon across borders. Buoyed with the “unprecedented” results during this Assembly results, the Trinamool Congress went on a massive scale to observe the annual ritual of July 21... the TMC supremo went several notches up when her speech was telecast on giant screens across several cities in the country. It was no more limited to West Bengal. The message she wanted to spread was that the Opposition unity was getting ready to take on the Saffron party in the forthcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

On Wednesday, Mamata Banerjee held a virtual conference from Kolkata with the leaders of Opposition parties gathering at the Constitution Club here, asking them to unite on a single platform, forgetting their narrow self-interests, to oust the saffron party from power at the Centre.

This was clearly an exercise by her to launch the Opposition's front during her visit to the national capital the next week and carry on its activities virtually through the video-conferencing by the leaders wherever they are instead of waiting for convenience of all to hold the physical meetings. Reaching out to top Opposition leaders, she said: "We need to build a front and fight for a common cause. So, please go and convince your leaders, so that we can come together, leaving our narrow self-interests and differences behind, and fight unitedly against the BJP, as only then we can save this country."


Warning that it will be too late if time is wasted on other things, Manata said: "We have only one interest -- to save the country and its people. The interest is to save the federal structure and the other states of the country. Start working on the front from now onwards.

She urged Opposition leaders present in the virtual meeting in Delhi to organise a meeting during her three-day trip to Delhi from July 27, so that the talks can start, stressing that she would like to function in the proposed front only as a common worker. "I always go to Delhi during the Parliament session to meet the leaders. This time I hope to meet some senior leaders."


Mamata was referring to senior leaders like Sharad Pawar and Supriya Sule of NCP, P Chidambaram, Digvijya Singh and Kumari Shelja from Congress, Ramgopal Yadav and Jaya Bachchan from Samajwadi Party, Priyanka Chaturvedi from Shiv Se­na, Sanjay Singh from AAP, Manoj Jha from RJD, Tiruchi Siva from Dmk as also the representatives of TRS, and Akali Dal who had gathered at the Constitution Club here to hear her. All of them are MPs, who are here for the Parliament session that began on Monday and which will go on till August 13. Missing, however, were the J&K parties.


“Pegasus is ferocious and dangerous and BJP is trying to interfere in the privacy of people. Opposition parties should take serious note of this and no one involved in this should be spared,” Mamata said. Appealing to the Supreme Court, she said the apex court should take suo moto cognizance or order for a special investigation team (SIT).

—Inputs from Aritra Singha

After two weeks of high political drama and several meetings and visits to the Gandhs, in a major development, cricketer-turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu was made the PPCC even as the Punjab CM, who had gone on record to follow the orders of the high command, has not been “visibly happy” with the decision of giving so much importance to Sidhu and made himself clear when his Cabinet team said they would not meet him till he apologised for comments on Facebook.

However, all said and done, the Congress has made a major rejig and only time will say where the Grand Old Party stands in the coming days. But for now, the party in Punjab has been infused with the much needed adrenaline.

In a first show of solidarity after his name was announced as the state party chief, Punjab Congress unit President Navjot Singh Sidhu, accompanying 62 legislators, comprising many state Cabinet ministers, on Wednesday paid obeisance at the Golden Temple, here.

However, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who is upset with Sidhu over his purported remarks against his government over the power crisis and the sacrilege issue, and his close confidants, were conspicuously absent from Sidhu's maiden visit to his constituency and religious places in the city after assuming the charge as the state chief.

However, past state President Sunil Jakhar was accompanying cricketer-turned politician Sidhu. Sidhu will assume the new charge on Friday.

After paying obeisance at the Golden Temple, Sidhu and the legislators will be visiting the Durgiana Mandir and Ram Tirath Sthal, both prominent Hindu sites.

Earlier in the day, the 62 Congress MLAs gathered at Sidhu's residence here and reached the Golden Temple complex in two chartered luxury buses. On reaching the Golden Temple, they were given a warm welcome by the party functionaries.


Meanwhile, a rejuvenated Arvind Kejriwal has gone ahead from state to state promising free electricity if voted to power.

AAP national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday said that if voted to power in the Goa Assembly elections, AAP will provide 300 units of free electricity to every family in the state every month. This, he said, will ensure that 87 per cent people in Goa will have ‘zero’ power bills.

“This is Kejriwal’s guarantee. Kejriwal does what he says… if AAP is elected in Goa, each family will get up to 300 units of free electricity. This is not a hollow election promise or ‘jumla’ like other parties. We have done all this in Delhi and will do it in Goa too,” Kejriwal said.

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