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Kolkata: Kanhaiya Kumar, the latest youth icon of the Left parties in India, today gave Bengal Left Front’s Brigade Parade Ground rally in Kolkata a miss where he was being touted as the prime attraction.

This notwithstanding, taking everyone by surprise, an ailing former Chief Minister and former CPI-M Polit Bureau member, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee turned up at the rally.

Bhattacharjee, 74, is a patient of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and needs to be on oxygen support almost round the clock these days.

Owing to this, CPI-M leadership had ruled out his presence at today’s Brigade Rally, which has effectively kick-started the Left’s Lok Sabha election campaign in Bengal.

But around 1.30 in the afternoon, Bhattacharjee arrived at the Brigade rally in an Ambassador car, accompanied by wife Meera Bhattacharjee. In another car was seated his physician and nursing staff.

The former Chief Minister, during his tenure the Trinamool whipped up the anti-land acquisition agitation and succeeded in out throwing the Left Front government in 2011, however, did not climb to the stage due to ill health.

Wearing an oxygen mask, he remained seated on the rear seat of the while Ambassador car that was parked next to the stage. His wife was seated next to him.

Left Front leaders present on the occasion descended from the stage in turn and spoke to Bhattacharjee in the car.

He remained there for about 30 minutes and then his convoy drove back to his residence at Palm Avenue in south Kolkata.

Since it was clear that Bhattacharjee will not be able to deliver a speech, a statement by him was published in CPI-M mouthpiece yesterday itself.

The statement was read out again at the rally today wherein Bhattacharjee has emphasised that BJP cannot be an alternative to the Trinamool misrule in Bengal. He urged Left cadres and people to unite against both BJP and Trinamool.

Kanhaiya Kumar, on the other hand, was to fly down from Patna today morning but cancelled the trip at the last moment.

Bengal Left Front chairman, Biman Bose, told the Brigade rally that Kumar has developed mumps and is running a fever due to which he is not coming.

The young CPI leader, however, had made a tweet at 8.39 last night wherein he shared a news item on the Rafale Scam.