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Promise of fitting finale to open-air spectacle

New Delhi, Jan. 20: Fighter jets zipping in the skies in rehearsal for Republic Day greeted Arvind Kejriwal as he began his dharna on a comparatively warm January day.

The Delhi chief minister’s blue Wagon R reached Raisina Road leading to North Block at 11.15 am today. He was stopped almost a kilometre from the home ministry.

For almost an hour, Kejriwal, cabinet minister Manish Sisodia and three others remained inside the car as camerapersons jostled outside to click pictures.

Other cabinet ministers came in their own cars. “To enjoy a movie, you have to watch it till the climax. So wait and watch,” health minister Satyendra Jain quipped, when asked what his government’s strategy was.

At 11.30am, a busload of breakaway AAP supporters landed, donning saffron caps. Although police did not allow them to get off the bus, they raised slogans — “Kejriwal ek dhokha hain (Kejriwal is a deception)”.

Some 45 minutes later, Kejriwal and his team got out of the car and proceeded to the dharna site under the statue of Govind Ballabh Pant, the first chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in Independent India.

Since morning, there was a steady trickle of AAP supporters to the venue. By 2.30pm, the numbers had swelled enough for the police to seal the area. According to police estimates, nearly 7,000 supporters were turned away.

Many people were not from Delhi. “This is a revolution to change rotten institutions, be it Delhi police or police in the entire nation,” Surender Singh, a 35-year-old shopkeeper from Haryana’s Palwal said.

Some volunteers were from Bihar’s Chhapra district. “We heard about the stand-off between Kejriwal and Sushil Shinde, so we decided to board the next train to come to lend him moral support,” Umeshwar Singh said.

Another supporter, Ramesh Kumar Ohlyan from Haryana’s Rohtak, said: “The government is capable of lifting Kejriwal in the middle of the night like they did with Ramdev. We have to give him company and shield him from the police.”

By 3.30pm, the crowd started to raise slogans — “Aaj ka CM, kal ka PM (Today’s CM will be tomorrow’s PM).