Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao will be one of the prominent regional leaders who will be skipping the mega anti-BJP rally in Kolkata being organized by his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee, as the Congress was also invited to the event.
On Friday, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief called up Mamata, who heads the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) and explained to her that he would not share the stage with Congress leaders. He also stated that the first Assembly session of his state was presently underway, with the Governor’s address scheduled for Saturday.
KCR has floated the idea of a non-Congress and non-BJP Federal Front and said that a consortium of regional parties would emerge in the country soon.
Meanwhile, arrangements at the historic Brigade Parade ground in Kolkata were underway for the event, that would virtually kick-start the opposition's campaign ahead of the upcoming general election.
Convened by Mamata Banerjee, who is aiming to project herself as the face of the opposition, the rally at noon is being attended by the who's who of Indian politics -- a former prime minister, several current and former chief ministers and stalwarts from various political outfits from across the country.
Banerjee has arranged for a tea party for her guests at 4 pm on Saturday after the rally gets over. The venue is Soujanya, a new state government guest house, modelled after New Delhi's Hyderabad House. The leaders are likely to address the media about their deliberations post tea party.
On Friday itself, Banerjee called on former prime minister and Janata Dal (Secular) national president H.D. Deve Gowda, Nationalist Congress Party supremo Sharad Pawar and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, who have been lodged in different hotels.
While Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi have given the rally a miss, they have deputed senior party functionary and leader of the party in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge.
The Congress President on his part sent a message to Mamata Banerjee on Friday extending his support to the event hoping that the "show of unity" will send a powerful message of "a united India together" for ideas that the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were intent on destroying.
Over 20 leaders from more than ten parties are attending the rally and the tea party.
Among them are Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam chief Chandrababu Naidu, DMK head M.K. Stalin, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah (both National Conference).
Tejashwi Yadav (RJD), Ajit Singh and Jayant Chowdhury (both RLD), former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Gegong Apang, Hemant Soren of JMM, Patidar movement leader Hardik Patel, Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani and Mizoram opposition leader Pu Lalduhoma.
Three stalwarts of the first BJP prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's cabinet and staunch anti-modi campaigners Yashwant Sinha, Shatrughan Sinha and Arun Shouriee besides Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav and Babulal Marandi of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha would also attend the rally.
Apart from bringing thousands of supporters from their respective constituencies, the party leaders have also made special arrangements for their food, lodging, security and other necessary amenities in different parts of the city.