A Gujarati who swears by Bengal's development model (Election Special)

Barrackpore, April 27 (IANS) She may have compelled him to step down as railway minister, but Trinamool Congress veteran Dinesh Trivedi scoffs at suggestions that he ever had differences with party supremo Mamata Banerjee and sings paeans for the "Bengal model of development".

Now busy electioneering to retain his Barrackpore Lok Sabha seat in from the North 24 Parganas district, the colourful politician swears by his leader and waxes eloquent about the party playing the kingmaker after the polls.

Even as BJP's prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi carpet bombs the country selling the "Gujarat model of development", Trivedi, also a Gujarati but born and brought up in West Bengal, begs to differ. For him, the panacea to the ills facing the country is the "Bengal model of development" as propounded by Banerjee.

Two years after he was unceremoniously dumped by the party as railway minister, 2012 seems to be a never-never chapter in the life of the tech-savvy politician, who has donned many a hat - a pilot, a trained sitarist, businessman and now a prominent face of the Trinamool.

Trivedi, who incurred Banerjee's wrath for proposing a hike in passenger fares in the railway budget and had to immediately make way for party colleague Mukul Roy who rolled back the proposals, insists he shares a cordial relationship with the mercurial party chief.

"Talks of my differences with Mamata are only media creations," says Trivedi, who joined the Trinamool in 1998 to become its first general secretary, after initial stints with the Congress and the Janata Dal.

Having left behind those days when the media zealously chased him for his side of the railway budget story, Trivedi is extra careful to skirt all contentious issues. "I have had enough of controversies. I don't want any more of that. Please stick to Barrackpore."

But he confidently declares there is no Modi wave in the country, least of all in Bengal.

"It's the Mamata wave in Bengal. People are awestruck to see how only in two-and-a-half years she has transformed Bengal. The next government at the centre cannot be formed without the support of Mamata," Trivedi told IANS in an interview.

The 63-year-old echoes Banerjee's views that Gujarat lags Bengal in several parameters. "The fact is there is no Modi wave across the country, or in Bengal. People are debating if they want an authoritarian at the helm or want democracy to continue," says Trivedi.

"People in Bengal do not want the mess of Telangana here; so they will never vote for BJP which wants to divide Bengal and create a separate Gorkhaland state. How can people talk about a Modi wave when there is no chance of the BJP winning even a single seat in Bengal?"

The MBA graduate from Texas, who left behind a lucrative logistics business to take the political plunge, has also been an avid litigator and rose to prominence when he approached the Supreme Court seeking to make public the Vohra Committee report on the criminal-politician nexus.

The petition, which harped on the importance of the people's right to know, provided momentum to the RTI movement in the country.

Contesting the polls from an industrial belt in Kolkata's northern suburbs, Trivedi faces a 15-cornerned contest, with his principal opposition being firebrand trade unionist Subhasini Ali of the Communist Party of India-Marxist. The BJP and the Congress have also put up candidates.

While Trivedi refuses to make any comment about Ali, he pours scorn on the CPI-M.

"Like no Indian would ever think of bringing back British rule, similarly nobody in Bengal would vote the Marxists," Trivedi said, flaying the erstwhile CPI-M-led Left Front regime.

He exuberantly talks about his plans to convert the constituency in North 24 Parganas district into an international market for animal and agricultural produce.

"Much like Amul revolutionised milk production in the country, I too have a blueprint for developing Barrackpore into an international market through cooperatives," said Trivedi, who also has plans to open a medical college and hospital in the region.

Criss-crossing his constituency addressing people at street corners, reaching out to them at homes or organising mass rallies in his endeavour to acquaint himself about their needs and aspirations, Trivedi, who covers nearly 20 km a day, uses a cellphone app to measure the distance he has covered.

"The blessings of my parents and the teachings of my guru, Swami Chinmayanand, are my inspirations which keep me going," says Trivedi, who is a great fan of Indian classical music.

(Anurag Dey can be contacted at anurag.d@ians.in)