Anna to campaign for Mamata, snubs Kejriwal

Hazare and Mamata Banerjee at the joint press conference, New Delhi, Wednesday. (AP) Hazare and Mamata Banerjee at the joint press conference, New Delhi, Wednesday. (AP)

Social activist Anna Hazare declared his support for the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Wednesday, saying he would campaign for the party in the coming Lok Sabha elections and advise the party on the selection of seats. He ruled out any support for his one-time lieutenant and former Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal.

“He did not reply to my letter on the 17-point economic agenda… no question of supporting somebody who did not reply,” said Hazare. The TMC was the only party which replied to Hazare’s letter.

TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the party would not declare its support for any political formation before the elections. “It is the age of post-paid, not pre-paid,” she said.

Hazare, however, made it clear that his support for the TMC was only till the Lok Sabha elections. He said his ultimate aim was to launch a “people’s outfit”, which would field at least 100 “independent” candidates in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

“I have never supported a party, but I thought when there is a Chief Minister who shuns luxury and leads such a simple life, what is the harm if some good people from the party are elected. I support Mamata Didi as an individual… somebody like her who understands the value of sacrifice can bring change in the country,” said Hazare.
“I will support the Trinamool, but only till the Lok Sabha elections. I will garner support for the TMC during my tours. In 2019, I will field 100 good candidates from a ‘people’s outfit’ that will not owe allegiance to any political party,” he said.

Banerjee said her party would contest all the 42 seats in West Bengal, two in Tripura and other seats in Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. “In north and south India, Anna will tell us where we can fight, he will advise us,” she said.

The TMC is banking on Hazare’s support to give the party a national profile. It has already announced the formation of a “quasi-political” platform “Fight For India” along with Hazare, through which it will seek people’s opinion on its poll manifesto, in the model of participatory governance that Hazare has always spoken of.

Asked about the chit fund scam in West Bengal — CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat had said Hazare should use his influence with Mamata to get her to seek a CBI inquiry — Banerjee replied, “None of that happened during my tenure. It has been thriving since the 1980s when the Left Front was in power. We instituted a judicial commission for it, arrested the main accused from Kashmir and cracked down on the practice. One of our own MPs is in jail.”