The Telegraph
Tuesday , March 11 , 2014
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CM national flight from Delhi to Gujarat

Calcutta, March 10: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee will hold rallies in Delhi, Kurukshetra and Ahmedabad over nine days as part of her efforts to make Trinamul’s presence felt outside Bengal.

The chief minister will launch her national Lok Sabha campaign with back-to-back rallies in Delhi and Kurukshetra on March 12 and March 13, followed by another public meeting on March 20 in Ahmedabad, the turf of Gujarat chief minister and the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

“Day after tomorrow at 1pm I will be attending a Rally at Ramlila Maidan at New Delhi, where Annaji will be addressing the gathering. May I appeal to all my brothers and sisters to join and extend full support at Ramlila Maidan, if time permits. I may also address the gathering,” Mamata posted on Facebook this evening.

Trinamul leaders in Calcutta today said the Gujarat Samata Party would merge with them. “The Samata Party’s head in Gujarat, Pravinsinh Jadeja, will meet Mamata when she goes to Delhi. The formal announcement of the merger would be made at the Ahmedabad rally,” said Vinod Singh, Trinamul’s convenor in Gujarat.

Sources said the Samata Party hardly had any presence in Gujarat since Modi’s rise in the state after 2004. The party does not have an elected representative in the western state.

Trinamul has also announced a merger with Jharkhand Peoples’ Party in the neighbouring state, which sources said was another insignificant organisation without any legislator.

Although the venue for the Ahmedabad rally is yet to be fixed, with two of the three choices rejected, Samata chief Jadeja said party workers would ensure the meeting is held. “We may even book a private ground.”

According to Trinamul insiders, Mamata is expected to attack the Congress and the BJP at the three rallies to project her party as an alternative force, a pitch she had made during her address at the Brigade Parade Grounds on January 30.

The Bengal chief minister would be accompanied by Anna Hazare at the rallies. Hazare, the sources said, has expressed his desire to see Mamata as the next Prime Minister.

According to the sources, Mamata was compelled to project herself at the national level because of Hazare’s pitching her name for the Prime Minister.

Her party Trinamul has said it will field candidates in all seven seats of Delhi and 14 seats of Jharkhand.

“Usually, the focus of her campaign is Bengal. This year, she has made a departure from the practice as she is seeking a national recognition for Trinamul and is keen on playing a much bigger role in the post-poll scenario,” said a Trinamul leader close to Mamata.

Modi has been touring the country as part of his Lok Sabha campaign, so has Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Even Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal has been regularly making headlines, taking on the Congress and BJP bigwigs.

Sources said Mamata, who has often been dubbed a regional leader, decided to spread her wings beyond Bengal to achieve her target of a bigger share in national politics.

While announcing her list of candidates for Bengal, Jharkhand and Tripura, Mamata rolled out her plans to field candidates from Delhi, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

Despite her stints as MP and Union minister, especially in the high profile railway ministry, Mamata has largely focussed on Bengal. Before the 2011 Assembly polls, she concentrated on Bengal and toured the state from South 24-Parganas to Cooch Behar, laying the foundation for projects under the rail ministry.

In the run-up to the general elections this year, Mamata has started projecting her model of development as better than those of her counterparts. In an interview with PTI yesterday, she had sought to differentiate her development model from Modi’s.

Trinamul insiders said the rallies in the three states would give her the chance to tell people how she had been working for Bengal’s turnaround, though the Opposition in the state has raised questions on her achievements.

“She has already raised questions on Modi’s development model…. She would definitely launch a virulent attack on the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate when she goes to Ahmedabad,” a Trinamul leader said.