On Wednesday, the Trinamool Congress’s protest march to the Prime Minister’s residence was cut short as the party leaders were detained midway. On Thursday, they made sure there would be no such interruptions. Before beginning a march to the Prime Minister’s Office at South Block, the TMC made elaborate arrangements, including recces and decoys, and maintained strict secrecy to make sure the authorities would be taken by suprise.
Around lunchtime on Thursday, about 30 TMC MPs descended on Rajpath in six cars, shouting “Modi hatao desh bachao”. They were protesting against the arrest of Lok Sabha leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay in connection with the Rose Valley chit fund case. The PMO security force was pushed to the limit as the MPs clashed with RAF and Delhi Police personnel. Former footballer Prasun Banerjee lay down on Rajpath before being pushed into the waiting bus. Rajya Sabha MP Dola Sen claimed she had slapped a policeman for having tried to grapple with her.
To avoid a repeat of Wednesday — when the Delhi Police knew about the protest in advance and scuttled their plans — the TMC ensured strict secrecy for Thursday. Only four senior MPs knew about the plan to protest at South Block. The others were told to assemble at MP Dinesh Trivedi’s residence, while a rumour was circulated about a possible agitation at the CBI headquarters at CGO Complex. “Not that we do not trust our MPs, but after Wednesday’s experience we could not take any chances,” said a party source.
At Trivedi’s residence, the MPs were asked to head to Parliament — yet another ploy to throw the police and media off track. While the others waited in Parliament, the senior MPs recced South Block.
“I made two trips. We realised there was no heightened security alert. We deliberately decided to reach the PMO in cars,” said an MP who was part of the strategy team. The leaders were carefully aligned. Those with experience of street protests — such as Saugata Roy and Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar — were in front, followed by six women MPs. Others followed in small groups.