The alliance is the key for Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee and she is making sure that her guest candidate wins.
"If Amiya Sarkar wins, I will ensure he brings in development than any possible Trinamool Congress candidate," said Mamata Banerjee before a crowd estimated at around 30,000 on Wednesday. Banerjee was pitching for the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) candidate, to whom she gifted away the seat that Trinamool had won in 2006 defeating Udayan Guha, the son of Forward Bloc heavyweight Kamal Guha. "A vote for Sarkar is a vote for me," said Banerjee.
Dinhata is Banerjee's 'prestige seat' of the 54 assembly constituencies across six districts of North Bengal voting in the first phase of polls on April 18. The Trinamool chief had infuriated her supporters by giving away this seat to NCP. They argued that Dinhata, the only seat that the party won in 2006 assembly polls, was too precious to be given away.
Banerjee was so furious at her sitting MLA Ashok Mondal staying away from the rally that she expelled him. "Please listen to me carefully, if you really want change in Writers' Buildings, then vote for Amiya Sarkar. He is our candidate for change here, no one else," she repeated throughout her 15-minute hurricane speech.
By expelling Mondal, Banerjee also sought to deliver a message that she was taking a tough stance against her own party leaders if they were acting against the official candidate. On her fourth day of North Bengal trip, Banerjee addressed five rallies in Cooch Behar on Wednesday. Her speech calmed the nerves of Trinamool supporters who were angry with Banerjee for handing the seat to NCP.
"If we lose the seat, it will be only because of her (Banerjee)," said Gangaram Mohanto, a tea-stall owner near Dinhata SDO office, who sacrificed half-a-day's business to attend the rally. The situation was so tense that there was no welcome for former Lok Sabha Speaker and NCP leader PA Sangma.
Sangma, who started his speech barely five minutes before Banerjee arrived, finished it within half a minute of Trinamool chief's arrival amid wild clapping and sloganeering.