Shedding his earlier rigid stand not to support any party, anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare said he would back Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress in the Lok Sabha polls. He also added he won’t support BJP’s Narendra Modi, or protégé Arvind Kejriwal — pouring cold water on the AAP’s ambitious plan to rope him as a poll campaigner.
Hazare and Banerjee announced that they will jointly campaign in select seats in the coming polls. The TMC chief also asked Hazare to pick candidates for her in Maharashtra and other states.
For the next (2019) election, however, Hazare maintained that he wants to send a “hundred independent candidates”.
The activist’s support gave a fillip to Banerjee’s national ambitions, who is fighting against the Left parties to strengthen her foothold in a non-Congress, non-BJP combination. The TMC chief, however, said she was keeping her post-poll alliance options open.
Hazare added that he had sent letters to all political parties to support 17 demands: “Only Mamata Banerjee pledged support. Arvind Kejriwal didn’t even reply.” These demands include making a set of acts on land acquisition, tribal rights and a new tax system.
Showering lavish praise on Banerjee, Hazare said, “I am supporting didi not because of her party, but due to her thoughts towards the country and society. For the first time, I have met a person like didi who thinks for the country and society.”
An angry AAP hit back at Anna, suggesting he is making a wrong choice. “The West Bengal government is one of the most corrupt and excels in misgovernance too,” party spokesperson Anand Kumar said.
The TMC head looked happy as Hazare pointed out that she is poor and does not enjoy the perks of power. She added in the joint press conference, “I came to Delhi only to meet Anna. I do not have anything. I can offer myself to the country.”
Banerjee also took the opportunity to attack the centre for infringing on state’s freedom. “Is the centre’s job only to collect tax or unleash CBI and intimidate people? The centre should not behave like a feudal landlord.”