Anna Hazare and Mamata Banerjee have parted venues, if not ways. After the two met in Kolkata and Anna gave Mamata top marks in answering his 17-points, there was much made of the bonhomie between the two.
On Wednesday, Anna shattered that bubble. He was in Delhi. Mamata too was in Delhi. Both of them were to address a rally at Ramlila Maidan. But poor Didi! She was left holding the rally, alone. Anna stayed put in Maharashtra Sadan, suddenly "taking ill".
The absence of Hazare must have rankled Mamata, just like it must have given her a sense of deja vu: Not long ago, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Banerjee had come together on dais and sworn allegiance till the cows come home. But as far as Mulayam was concerned, that was all bull. Mamata realised this when not two days later, Mulayam stood next to Sonia and Manmohan Singh and gave Mamata the ditch.
Had Anna done a Mulayam on Mamata? By afternoon, the gristmill was working overtime. The Anna-Mamata rally had become a Mamata rally, and a mighty poor one at that. Anna too had ditched Mamata.
"It is wrong to say that the rally was organised by Anna's team. It was a complete Trinamool Congress show. Annaji was to just give a message. He has severe chest infection and was completely not in position to go to the ground," Anna's aide Sunita Godara told dna.
Mamata rubbished Godara's claim. "It was Anna's rally. Anna invited me to address the rally along with him," she said.
And what a rally it was. By Mamata's Kolkata standards, this one was a whimper before a roar, a pygmy before a giant — empty white chairs and vacant red chairs stood out, stark. Mamata's Kolkata rallies are a sea of humanity. Wednesday's capital rally was the size of a puddle: barely 2,000 people heard and saw her speak.
Mamata did mention that Anna couldn't make it to the rally because he had "taken ill". But then, she didn't call on the ailing old man. TMC MP Mukul Roy filled in for her. Then, the plot thickened. Two Anna colleagues, Kiran Bedi and former army chief Gen VK Singh, who has recently joined the BJP, drove up to Maharashtra Sadan. That set tongues wagging.