West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sat overnight in front of Dalit icon Dr BR Ambedkar's statue on Red Road in the heart of the city, surrounded by a cohort of TMC leaders and workers under television camera arclights. The chief minister who is staging a two-day-long sit-in to protest alleged discrimination by the centre against the state, had Wednesday in a change of stance urged all political parties in the country to unitedly fight the BJP in next year's Lok Sabha election, in a departure from an earlier decision to remain equi-distant from both the Congress and the right-wing party ruling India's federal polity.
The Trinamool Congress supremo was accompanied by several party leaders including Firhad Hakim and Aroop Biswas at the protest. Security measures in and around the venue were tightened keeping in mind the presence of high-profile leaders and the perceived threat perception to them, a senior officer of Kolkata Police said. Banerjee started the sit-in demonstration from Wednesday noon protesting against the Centre's alleged "stoppage" of funds to the state for MGNREGA and other schemes of the housing and public works departments. The city has been witnessing a flurry of political activity ahead of the Panchayat elections slated for this ummer, which has now received a green signal from Calcutta High Court while was responding to a petition filed by the leader of the opposition Suvendu Adhikari earlier this week on the statistics being used to determine seat reservations.
Rival rallies by Banerjee’s nephew and upcoming TMC leader Abhisek, BJP's Adhikari and a march organised by the Left-Congress alliance increased the state’s political temperature by a few notches along with the sit-in demonstration which has been drawing large crowds of onlookers.