Ramlila fiasco: TMC leaders missing from Delhi

A little over two weeks after the embarrassment meted out by Anna Hazare at Ramlila Maidan here, Trinamool Congress leaders have gone missing not only from Delhi, but also from television screens – even its most prominent TV face Derek O’ Brien has been missing.

The former quiz master claimed he was busy campaigning in Jharkhand and North Bengal. Derek,the party’s chief whip in the Rajya Sabha and another Rajya sabha MP Sukhendusekhar Roy, had been camping in Delhi for several days before the Ramlila misadventure on March 12. It has been said the two have bore the brunt of Mamata Banerjee’s ire — neither returned to Delhi after the fiasco.

National general secretary Mukul Roy, in-charge of new tie-ups, too has given the capital a miss after alliances with the Peace Party and the Rishipal Ambawata faction of Bharatiya Kisan Union did not work out. The absence of top TMC leaders has affected campaigning of party candidates in Delhi, including actor Biswajeet who has requested that Mamata attend a poll rally in Delhi, but he was yet to get a positive response.

It also appeared the party was unhappy with Derek. The TMC leadership, according to sources, felt that Derek on television had built his own brand more than putting the party’s views across effectively. This was the reason for West Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra being designated as the party spokesman, assisted by Derek.

“His failure to foresee the Ramlila disaster despite overlooking rally preparations has not gone down well either,” said a source.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Derek said: “We are on the ground, not in TV studios. Read my blog you will know. Mr Amit Mitra too has been travelling in North Bengal.”