Mamata Banerjee's "apolitical" rally at Lalgarh had a distinct political message. And though her party garnered the support of a host of intellectuals - including writer Mahasweta Devi, social activist Medha Patkar, poet Joy Goswami and singer Nachiketa - Trinamool Congress leaders ended up engaging in their favourite preoccupation - CPM-bashing.
Travelling along Bombay Road towards Midnapore one could see cutouts of Mamata and Trinamool podiums at almost every crossing. From Sunday night itself, party workers and supporters milled around the podium in Lalgarh from where their leader spoke on Monday.
The rally sent out a strong political message to the CPM, with Mamata, other Trinamool leaders and intellectuals sparing no effort to blast the CPM.
"If Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has not taken action against the 54,000 murders committed by his party, he should be tried by some court similar to a war crimes tribunal and sent to jail," said former bureaucrat Debabrata Bandopadhyaya.
Trinamool leaders such as Partha Chatterjee forecast the end of the CPM's reign and warned the state government against committing further "crimes" on the people of Lalgarh.
Lawyer and MP Kalyan Banerjee said, "Before you (Buddhadeb) go, stop all the terror."
Visually, the venue of the rally was every bit apolitical. There was no Trinamool flag or banner in the school premises where the event took place. The giant collage behind the podium read: "Shantrash Birodhi Ganatantrik Mancha (Democratic Forum Against Terror)".
But if one looked around the venue, the rally was anything but apolitical.
Trinamool supporters came in buses and vehicles sporting party flags and festoons.
And when Mamata came to the venue amid thunderous applause, the slogans raised by the master of ceremonies, MP Suvendu Adhikary, made it abundantly clear that the rally was political all the way.
4 PCPA members held
Four members of the Maoist-backed PCPA were arrested on Monday from near the venue of the rally.
"One of the four, Sushil Mahato was re-arrested after he fled from police custody, while three were taken into custody for extortion and criminal activities," West Midnapore SP Manoj Verma said.