A convoy of cars will rally from Kolkata to several places in Bangladesh for a week, starting this weekend, to celebrate the centenary of Bangabandhu Mujibur Rehman, the first Prime Minister of Bangladesh. This is also being touted as the first-ever motor rally between Kolkata and Dhaka and has been christened ‘Moitree’.
Starting from Kolkata, the rally, which is being organised by the Automobile Association of Eastern India (AAEI), will touch Dhaka, Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong, Mymensingh, Rangpur before re-entering West Bengal through Siliguri. More than 30 cars have already signed up for the rally. The registrations will remain open till February 28, when the rally will be officially announced from the precincts of the Calcutta Club. Almost all the heritage clubs of the city have joined hands with the AAEI in the initiative.
On the Bangladesh side, the deputy high commission here, Dhaka Bank and Dhaka Club are partnering the initiative. Elaborate cultural exchanges have been planned at every place where the rally will stop. “This should have happened long back. We are part of the same cultural skein and still it took us so long to plan this. But better late than never,” said Kaushik Roy, veteran rallyist who has driven across 32 countries already and will lead the rally.
For some participants, it would be a nostalgic trip to the country that their parents belonged to. Take the case of former banker Iman Bhattacharya and his wife Meghmala, who trace back their ancestry to different parts of Bangladesh. “Though I have driven across India and to other countries as well, it is quite another thing to drive to Bangladesh. No boundary can divide the heart, can it? We hope that after this debut rally between the city and Bangladesh becomes a popular route for rallyists,” Bhattacharya said.
The rallyists will also carry the message of Sunderbans conservation with them. Special posters have been designed for this and many interactions between rallyists and conservation experts in Bangladesh have been organised. “Sunderbans is common to both West Bengal and Bangladesh and we will see if some collaborative projects can be drawn up,” said Milan Mukherjee, senior lawyer and chairperson of AAEI.
Source: Times of India