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Home >Politics >Policy >Mamata Banerjee faces empty seats as Anna Hazare skips Delhi rally

New Delhi: Veteran social activist Anna Hazare skipped a joint rally with Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday in the national capital. The rally at the Ramlila Grounds, which once shot Hazare to national fame for his anti-corruption agitation, told a different story on Wednesday when the supposed joint rally was sparsely attended.

“We came here because Anna Hazare wanted us to come here. Whenever a rally happens at Ramlila Grounds all the tents are full but we did not want to do that because we wanted to send a special message. Even if there is no one else, I am there," Banerjee said to a small crowd of supporters.

The rally was scheduled to begin at 10am but the grounds remained largely vacant even after the West Bengal chief minister arrived. The suspense over Hazare’s attendance prevailed till the end even as huge posters of Banerjee and Hazare adorned the backdrop in which she addressed the crowd.

Ruling out the possibility of aligning either with the ruling Congress or the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Banerjee said: “The two parties have formed a syndicate and passed the Bills without discussing any amendments. They have come together to sell the country."

Taking a swipe at BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Banerjee said:“The BJP says it will come top power. But I ask how will it come to power... The face of Gujarat is communal. Not the people but the leader of Gujarat is communal."

A former ally of Congress party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), Banerjee is expected to be a key regional party in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. On Wednesday, she however said that she had “no idea" as to why Hazare did not come to the rally.

“It was his rally. I had come here at his request. I do not know why he did not come. I have no idea," she told reporters after the rally.

Less than a month ago, Hazare had extended support to Banerjee saying that he would stand in support for all the candidates of TMC and campaign for them in the upcoming Lok Sabha election.

An aide of Hazare in the capital, who did not wish to be identified, said that Hazare was “extremely unwell" on Wednesday but also did not rule out a “political reason" behind not attending the rally at the last minute.

Hazare, mentor of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal, had split ways with him after a successful association with him when the latter decided to turn political.

Those who attended the rally on Wednesday were left disappointed with Hazare’s absence and a thin turn out of crowd.

“I came to see Anna but I did not anticipate that he would not be here. Seeing the number of people who turned out, I think it was a waste of time and I might as well have watched it on television," Surya Kant, a 45 year old small trader who travelled from Meerut in Uttar Pradesh to attend the rally, said.

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