KOLKATA: Lakhs of Trinamool Congress activists and supporters from across West Bengal thronged the city on Friday, a day ahead of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's high-voltage 'United India Rally' that is likely to be a show of opposition strength ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
The ruling TMC leadership has left no stone unturned to break all previous records.
According to the party leadership, nearly four to five lakh people have arrived in the city by Friday via road, railways and waterways to hear and watch the opposition gain steam at 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.
"Close to 70,000 activists have arrived at Sealdah station from different districts of north Bengal since morning. People have come onboard the Katihar Express, Uttar Banga Express, Padatik Express and Kanchan Kanya Express so far.
"More people will arrive on the Kanchanjunga Express in the evening. Another 7,000 people have arrived at the Kolkata Rail Station (Chitpur)," said state Food Minister Jyotipriyo Mullick, who was supervising the arrival of the party activists at the Sealdah station, told IANS.
"Large number of supporters are expected to arrive in the same trains tomorrow (Saturday) who will directly head for the meeting venue from the stations," he said.
Mullick, who is the paty's in-charge of the North 24 Parganas district, claimed that at least 5,00,000 to 6,00,000 supporters were expected to come from the district to attend the rally.
"We have booked all the public buses, pickup trucks, lorries and shuttle cars available in the region. Rest of the people will arrive by local trains.
"We apologise to the common people in advance in case if there is any inconvenience just for one day," he added.
As part of arrangements made for those going to the rally on Saturday, who would stay overnight in the city, 50 temporary camps have been erected in Salt Lake's Central Park.
Around 2,000 volunteers have been deployed to take care of the supporters while at least 12 CCTV cameras have been installed to ensure their security.
"The people staying here will be provided three course meals on Friday. We have also arranged for blankets. The entire accomodation is under CCTV surveillance and there are medical camps and sufficient fire fighting arrangements.
"We have also made seperate area for the members of minority community to read Namaz (prayer)," state Fire Minister and local MLA Sujit Bose said.
Arrangements for temporary accommodation for 20,000 people have also been made at South Kolkata's Gitanjali Stadium, a Trinamool leader said.
"Nearly 8,000 to 9,000 people have already arrived at the camps. More people are expected.
"We have put up medical camps and tied up with local hospitals in the area in case anyone falls ill. There is also CCTV surveillance and separate changing rooms for women," Trinamool leader Sushanto Ghosh said.
He said 100 buses have been arranged for taking the supporters to the venue on January 19.