Top leaders expected at INDIA bloc rally on Sunday in show of strength

The "Loktantra Bachao" rally will also be attended by NC president Farooq Abdullah, party vice president Omar Abdullah said

AAP leader Gopal Rai reviews preparations for INDIA bloc's mega rally at Ram Leela Maidan in New Delhi on 30 March (photo: PTI)
AAP leader Gopal Rai reviews preparations for INDIA bloc's mega rally at Ram Leela Maidan in New Delhi on 30 March (photo: PTI)


Top INDIA bloc leaders including Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi, Bhagwant Mann, Akhilesh Yadav and Tejashwi Yadav will participate in the rally at the Ramlila ground on Sunday, 31 March, in what is seen as a show of strength and Opposition unity in the backdrop of arrest of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal just before Lok Sabha polls.

The "Loktantra Bachao" rally -- or 'save democracy' rally -- will also be attended by National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah, party vice president Omar Abdullah said. An Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader said Delhi chief minister's wife Sunita Kejriwal is also likely to be in attendance.

Senior AAP leader Gopal Rai, who visited the Ramlila Maidan to inspect the preparations, claimed that Congress leader Sonia Gandhi will also attend the rally.

The Congress said the rally by the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance's (INDIA) will send a "strong message" to the Lok Kalyan Marg, where the prime minister's residence is located, that the BJP-led government's "time is up".

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

"It is not a person-specific rally. That is why it is called Loktantra Bachao rally. About 27-28 parties are expected to join the rally. All constituents of the INDIA 'janbandhan' will be taking part in the rally," Ramesh said.

His remarks assume significance in view of AAP leaders pitching the rally as a protest specifically against the arrest of Kejriwal by the Enforcement Directorate.

This is the last chance to save the country's constitution and democracy, he said, adding all leaders of Opposition alliance will join hands with the public and raise voice against the Bharatiya Janata Party's "dictatorship".

"If the people of the country do not raise their voice today then no one will be able to raise their voice tomorrow," he said, adding there is anger among the people over the arrest of Kejriwal.

Meanwhile, former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren's wife Kalpana Soren met Sunita Kejriwal on Saturday and they expressed a mutual resolve to fight it out. The meeting lasted about 15-20 minutes.

"I came here to share the sorrow and pain of Sunita ji. She narrated her plight. We both have pledged that this fight has to be taken very far. Entire Jharkhand stands with Arvind Kejriwal," Kalpana told reporters after the meeting.

She said what happened in Jharkhand two months ago was replicated in Delhi and the situation was the same at both the places. "My husband Hemant ji was sent to jail and Arvind Kejriwal sir is also in custody. The situation of Jharkhand and Delhi is the same."

Preparations underway for the INDIA bloc's mega rally at Ram Leela Maidan
Preparations underway for the INDIA bloc's mega rally at Ram Leela Maidan

The AAP has received the permission from the authorities to hold the rally with more than 20,000 people. 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."

The Delhi Police said they have made elaborate arrangements with checking at every gate and deployment of paramilitary personnel in and around the venue.

Police have allowed the rally to take place with certain conditions, including no march, no tractor-trollies, and no weapons in central Delhi, a senior officer said.

Although the rally is allowed, Section 144 will remain imposed at the DDU Marg, where the offices of political parties are located, an officer said.

No march will be allowed from the Ramlila Maidan, he said, adding that strict action will be taken if any violations take place.

Sources said about a dozen companies of paramilitary personnel will be deployed around the Ramlila Maidan and other parts of central Delhi, including DDU Marg.

The administration has allowed 20,000 people to come for the rally, but police expects it to exceed 30,000.

According to the traffic advisory, movement will be regulated and may be restricted on the Ranjeet Singh Flyover from Barakhamba Road to Guru Nanak Chowk, Vivekanand Marg from Minto Road to roundabout Kamla Market, Hamdard Chowk, JLN Marg from Delhi Gate to Guru Nanak Chowk and Ajmeri Gate, roundabout Kamla Market to Guru Nanak Chowk and Chaman Lal Marg near VIP Gate, Guru Nanak Chowk to Turkman Gate from 9 am to 3 pm.

Traffic diversion may be imposed on Rajghat Chowk, Minto Road, DDU Marg, Mirdard Chowk, Paharganj Chowk, A-Point, and Delhi Gate from 9 am onwards, it stated, adding that regulations and diversion will be reviewed according to the requirement and update will be issued accordingly.

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