INDIA bloc gears up for 'maha rally', AAP says over 1 lakh people to arrive from Punjab

Congress asserts "save democracy rally" at Ramlila Maidan is aimed at saving the Constitution and not a particular person

An AAP protest rally in Mumbai (photo: PTI)
An AAP protest rally in Mumbai (photo: PTI)


The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is expecting more than one lakh people from Punjab to participate in the INDIA bloc's rally in Delhi on Sunday, said a senior party leader on Saturday. The Opposition INDIA bloc will hold a 'maha (mega) rally' at Delhi's Ramlila Maidan on 31 March to "safeguard" the country's interests and democracy, the party had earlier said.

The administration has reportedly allowed 20,000 people to attend the rally, but police expects the attendance to exceed 30,000.

The rally was announced after Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with an excise policy-linked money-laundering case.

Meanwhile, the Congress on Saturday asserted that the INDIA bloc's "loktantra bachao (save democracy) rally" to be held at Ramlila Maidan is aimed at saving the Constitution and democracy and not any particular person. It said a "strong message" will be sent out from the rally to Lok Kalyan Marg (where the prime minister's residence is located) that the BJP-led government's "time is up".

From Punjab, chief minister Bhagwant Mann, cabinet ministers and MLAs will participate in the rally. Meanwhile, several Punjab ministers, including Harpal Singh Cheema, Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer, Aman Arora, Lal Chand Kataruchak, and MLA Kulwant Singh reached Delhi and met Arvind Kejriwal's wife Sunita Kejriwal.

AAP Punjab state unit working president Budh Ram said, "We have set a target of 1.25 lakh people from Punjab to participate in the protest. People are angry against the arrest of Kejriwal ji which is the handiwork of the Modi government, and they are eager to participate in the rally."

The AAP leader also said, "Prime Minister Narendra Modi is afraid of Kejriwal because he has set an example in the field of education and health in Delhi. Neither the Central government nor any BJP government in any state has been able to do such a thing. That is why Kejriwal has been arrested without any proof and it is all a conspiracy.

"The way opposition leaders are being arrested continuously in the country, they are being targeted through agencies. The way an elected chief minister was picked up and put in jail on the basis of mere allegations and no evidence. It is a systematic attempt to crush democracy. Against this, people of the INDIA bloc are coming to Ramlila Maidan from all over the country on Sunday."

AAP Punjab unit chief spokesperson Malvinder Singh Kang, who has reached the national capital, asked people to reach Ramlila Maidan in large numbers to register their protest against an "autocratic" government.

"To save democracy in India, all the Constitution-loving forces are gathering in the historic Ramlila Maidan of Delhi, the birthplace of @AamAadmiParty. We request all the lovers of our great nation to attend in large numbers at 10 am on Sunday," said Kang.

Addressing a press conference on the rally, Congress general-secretary Jairam Ramesh said party chief Mallikarjun Kharge and former party chief Rahul Gandhi would address the rally, among other senior leaders.

"It is not a person-specific rally. That is why it is called Loktantra Bachao Rally. This is not one party's rally, about 27-28 parties are involved in it. All constituents of the INDIA janbandhan will be taking part in the rally," Ramesh said.

Ramesh said the INDIA bloc had sounded its Lok Sabha poll bugle in Mumbai on 17 March, and the rally would be its second poll bugle. He said it would also send out a message of solidarity and unity among the bloc.

Ramesh said issues such as rising prices, the highest unemployment rate in 45 years, economic disparities, social polarisation and injustice against farmers would also be raised by Opposition leaders at the rally. He said another key issue that would be raised is the targeting of the Opposition through the "misuse of central agencies".

Two chief ministers and several ministers have been arrested in a bid to target Opposition parties politically, Ramesh alleged. "This shows the mindset that the prime minister wants to cripple Opposition parties politically and financially," he said.

Ramesh also said the most important objective of the rally was to protect the Constitution, which he claimed is in danger, with BJP leaders saying they want to rewrite it. He added that the likes of Jharkhand chief minister Champai Soren, NCP (SP) chief Sharad Pawar, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary D. Raja, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav, DMK's Tiruchi Siva, and the TMC's Derek O'Brien, among others, will participate in the rally.

The rally, Ramesh said, will also focus on the "biggest scam of the last 75 years", the electoral bonds scheme, through which he claimed the BJP collected Rs 8,200 crore.

Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely, who also addressed the press conference, said the rally would mark the beginning of the decisive and final political assault on the BJP from the people of the country.

Meanwhile, Delhi Police has made elaborate arrangements including checks at every gate and deployment of paramilitary personnel in and around Ramlila Maidan for the rally, officials said on Saturday. The police has allowed the rally to take place with certain conditions, including no march, no tractor trolleys, and no weapons in central Delhi, they said.

Though the rally is allowed, section 144 CrPC will remain imposed at DDU Marg, where the offices of political parties are located, an officer said. No march will be allowed from Ramlila Maidan, he said, adding that strict action will be taken if any violations take place. "We have made elaborate security arrangements so that the general public doesn't face any inconvenience," a senior police officer said.

Traffic police will also remain deployed to regulate the traffic and parking near the ground, he said. Sources said about a dozen companies of paramilitary personnel will be deployed around Ramlila Maidan and other parts of central Delhi, including DDU Marg.

The officer said seven gates have been prepared for entry and exit at Ramlila Maidan. "Among these, one is for VIPs and another for the media," officer said. Every visitor will be checked with door frame metal detectors and hand-held machines at the entry gates, he said.

The police have also installed CCTV cameras and set up a control room centre from where they can watch the activities at Ramlila Maidan. Police said the organisers have made seating arrangements for visitors, while facilities for drinking water and washrooms will be provided at the ground.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines