KOLKATA/PUNE (TIP): Mamata Banerjee’s ambition to play a key role in the national politics is taking shape after plans of sharing the dias with Anna Hazare in a joint campaign for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. A meeting between Banerjee and Hazare, scheduled to take place in New Delhi on February 18, is likely to give shape to an all-India campaign tentatively dubbed “Fight for India”.
Mamata has reportedly agreed to give an affidavit “to people” that she would “resign” from the post (of Prime Minister) if she failed to implement Hazare’s 17-point charter. “We need a simple Prime Minister like Mamata Banerjee. I will campaign for her and appeal to voters to elect her,” Hazare said after an hour-long meeting with Trinamool Congress national general secretary Mukul Roy at Ralegan Siddhi on February 13.
“Mamata stays in a 12X8 ft home. She still wears slippers and simple saris. She doesn’t avail an (official) car and takes no salary. She offers a ray of hope and if people stand by her, then the country will change in no time,” he said. “I had earlier sent a 17-point agenda to all parties. Only Mamataji replied. She agreed to give an affidavit to people. I will go to Delhi on February 18. We will have a detailed discussion and the path ahead will be decided then.”
But earlier Hazare’s had said he would not support any political party. “We don’t want a Prime Minister who operates on a remote control, even if he has an unblemished character,” Hazare added. Roy said he has come to meet Hazare as a respected senior and elderly statesman and convey Banerjee’s highest regard for him. Hazare also praised Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar and Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar, saying he was happy with the way these chief ministers were running their governments and maintaining a “simple lifestyle” despite being in power.
Sources said “Fight for India” campaign will be targeting the approximate 90-crore people with cellphones. It would be apolitical to allow Hazare and Banerjee to share same space and also to enable them to target young voters (65% of voters in India is below 35 years of age). The campaign is likely to kick-start soon. Trinamool was the first political party to accept Anna’s 17-point charter of demands. Roy on January 16 had written to Hazare that most of these have been incorporated and some even implemented by the party during the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and 2011 Assembly polls.
“I would like to assure you that we are wholeheartedly working to incorporate many more such ideas in our party’s 2014 election manifesto as well. We accept your 17- point economic agenda and need your guidance,” Roy had said. Hazare had indicated that acceptance of his 17-point agenda isn’t enough and that he wanted Banerjee should also sign an affidavit that if she can’t implement them she should resign. Agencies quoted Hazare saying, “…For the people, we want an affidavit from her that she would resign from the post if the 17 issues are not implemented. Affidavit is very important.
And if this affidavit happens then I will tell people to stand behind her in order to change the country.” Hazare also said that he recently sent the same agenda to Aam Adami Party leader and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and was waiting for his response. “Arvind’s party did not exist when I had sent the letter. So I will give him some time to respond. If he accepts the agenda and gives an affidavit I will think about supporting him,” he said.