'They promised us Rs 100 to come to Mamata's meeting '

'They promised us Rs 100 to come to Mamata's meeting '

It wasn't just that the crowd at Mamata Banerjee's rally at Ramlila Maidan was thin, it also appeared to be a far from spontaneous gathering of her supporters.

Several men and women appeared to have been brought to the ground from east Delhi's Seemapuri with a promise of payment of Rs 100 to 150.

“I do not even know whose rally it is. My neighbour told me we will receive between Rs 100 to Rs 150. So, I came straight from work,” said Radha, who works as a domestic help.
A 15-year-old girl, chewing on gutkha, threw a Trinamool Congress (TMC) banner sporting West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s photograph by the roadside.

Anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare was supposed to attend the rally but stayed away, disappointing many in the crowd.

“Who cares if it is Annaji’s rally or Didi’s? I came here as I was promised Rs 100. However, I haven’t received the money yet,” the teenager, who bunked school, grumbled.

For 35-year-old Mahesh, his wife and daughter, it was almost like a day out at the Ramlila Maidan. “We came here to support Didi and not for money,” Mahesh said.

However, a woman from his neighbourhood in Seemapuri, shot back saying, “Of course not. It is known that all of us are here since we were promised payments. If you get more members from your family, you earn more quick bucks.”

A few migrants spotted at the site had come to meet Banerjee seeking redressal of the party's functioning in West Bengal.

“It is sad how the TMC wing in Kharagpur functions. I have brought a letter in which the problems are listed. But I wonder how I will deliver it to Didi,” said Amiyo Dutta, currently a resident of Rohini. Kharagpur is an industrial town in West Bengal.  

According to police sources, around 2,000 people attended the rally. With a glaring number of vacant seats at the ground, Banerjee said in her speech, “We did not aim for a political rally. This is a social rally.”

A party source said very few supporters had turned up from Bengal while few others had come from Mathura.

“This rally was supposed to be a much-hyped affair with Banerjee planning to draw support for TMC at the national level. However, it fell rather flat,” the party insider said. Apart from TMC office bearers, the VIP enclosure saw several women and men donning “Main Anna hoon” caps.

Om Prakash Karwal, an Anna supporter, said, “I have always been with Anna in his fight against corruption. If, Anna is willing to join hands with Didi for a corruption-free India, I am ready to endorse TMC’s brand of politics.” 

One Mohammed Mukim Ansari, representing Bhartiya Kisan Union from Bihar, hailed Anna as the “man with the Midas touch”.

“If he decides to support Mamata, her fate will change overnight as Arvind Kejriwal’s did,” said the septuagenarian.

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