iconimg Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 12, 2014
Keeping AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal’s recent Gujarat field trip and her own 25-million-strong minority audience in mind, Trinamool Congress chief and Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee is planning her own tryst with Narendra Modi’s Gujarat — with her newfound backer, social activist Anna Hazare in tow.

The duo will launch the TMC’s national campaign in New Delhi on Wednesday. Later this month, they will take it to Gujarat. Their second joint rally — after the one at Ramlila Maidan — will be in Ahmedabad.

Banerjee’s decision to take the fight to Modi’s home turf comes even after Gujarat chief minister and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate went soft on the TMC government in his recent Kolkata rally.

In fact, Banerjee’s political compulsion now is to oppose Modi in public, especially after he said with Banerjee in the state, he at the Centre and President Pranab Mukherjee “above their heads”, Bengal will prosper at a faster pace.

Meanwhile, at Ramlila Maidan on Wednesday, the ‘Maa-maati-manush’ slogan will be wrapped in music and more as elaborate arrangements have been made by both sides to make the rally a hit. This will be Banerjee’s first political rally at the historic ground where Hazare had hosted his movement two years ago.

To ensure that the focus sharply remains on Banerjee and Hazare, no other leader is likely to be seen at the top level of the three-tier stage. And the backdrop of the stage will have just three pictures: Mahatma Gandhi, Banerjee and Hazare.

The second level is dedicated to musical bands—hired from Mumbai and Delhi—who will belt out numbers in Hindi, Urdu and Bhojpuri for over an hour to hail Banerjee and Anna.

“The political message will be the same: we want to fight corruption and communalism,” said TMC leader Derek O’Brian.

Party sources said the TMC also dropped its earlier plan to bring in movie star Mithun Chakraborty for the show as his presence could have distracted the attention from Banerjee and Hazare.

Some TMC leaders are also averse to the idea of announcing the candidates list to avoid any distraction.