Was misled on rally with Mamata: Anna

Two days after he refused to show up at the Ramlila Maidan for a joint rally with Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee, social activist Anna Hazare on Friday said he skipped the event as not even 4,000 people assembled at the venue and he was “misled” by the organisers. The rally was meant to mark Ms. Banerjee’s arrival on the national stage.

The 74-year-old activist said he supported Ms. Banerjee, but ruled out backing her party in the Lok Sabha elections. “Her character, her sacrifice, her ideology, I supported but not the party,” Mr. Hazare said.

He had earlier endorsed Ms. Banerjee for the Prime Minister’s post, but on Friday he said he did not think the future of the country was secure if any of the candidates from any of the parties in the race became the PM.

Reacting to this, the Trinamool’s Rajya Sabha member Derek O’ Brien said Ms. Banerjee had already said she respected Mr. Hazare and there was nothing more to be said on the issue.

In Kolkata, the Trinamool Congress chief told reporters that her party would emerge as the third largest party after the general election and would have a major role in the national politics.

Addressing his followers here, Mr. Hazare indicated that he was dissatisfied with some of the Trinamool candidates. He will, therefore, work towards identifying possible candidates for the next general elections in 2019.

On the Ramlila Maidan no-show, he said, “Ramlila Ground, which was suffused with thousands of people during the 12 days [when he was on fast], had no crowd in the audience and they wanted me to come. This was dhokhadadhi [betrayal].” His aides had earlier claimed that the activist skipped the rally as he was “unwell.”

“When I came to Delhi, I found out by 12 noon that there were only 2,000 to 2,500 people. I checked again at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Then I thought that something was wrong. It is the same Ramlila Ground which had teemed with people for 12 days and now there were not even 4,000 people,” Mr. Hazare said.

Blaming his aide and organiser Santosh Bhartiya for the flop show, Mr. Hazare said he was informed that it was Ms. Banerjee’s rally, while the Trinamool chief was told that she was attending Mr. Hazare’s rally. “She was misinformed and I was misled,” he said. Mr. Bhartiya said he would react to this “later.”

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