New Delhi, May 22: A remorseful Arvind Kejriwal sought to move Tihar inmates today, disrupting meditation classes to tell them with “folded hands” that he regretted resigning as Delhi chief minister but exuding confidence he would be back in power.
Kejriwal, in jail since yesterday after he refused to furnish a bail bond in a defamation case filed by BJP leader Nitin Gadkari, apologised to a group of 50 inmates in a “Vipassna ward”, a hall for the meditation sessions.
“The Vipassna (meditation) classes were disrupted in the morning and afternoon as Kejriwal started speaking to the inmates,” a senior jail official said.
“He told them about the circumstances leading to his resignation and apologised with folded hands. Some inmates told him he had made a blunder and he should have concentrated on delivering on his promises rather than attack the Opposition.”
Over 500 inmates take the meditation and yoga courses as part of reformatory measures in the jail, Asia’s biggest with over 14,000 prisoners, more than double its sanctioned strength of 6,500.
Kejriwal tried to assure the inmates he had learnt his lesson. “I repent my decision. I assure you I shall never repeat the mistake,” another official quoted him as saying. The prisoners applauded.
The AAP leader promised to build good infrastructure in the jail if he were voted back to power with bigger numbers. “I will also ensure that all of you get free legal advice,” he added.
Prison sources said Kejriwal had a tough time last night battling mosquitoes inside his 6x10sqft cell, the same one where his former mentor Anna Hazare was lodged after his arrest during the Lokpal movement in 2011.
“Kejriwal ate chapatis, subzi and dal last night and slept on a mat. He is a diabetic and his medicines were handed over to him according to the court’s directions,” Tihar spokesperson Sunil Gupta said.
Kejriwal woke up at 5.30am today and went for a walk before having breakfast. He read newspapers for nearly an hour. Wife Sunita, along with AAP leaders Sanjay Singh and Ashutosh, met him this afternoon for 20 minutes.
“He is not a criminal. Why should he pay money (for the bail bond) when he is ready to give an undertaking (to appear in all hearings in the libel case)?” Sunita told reporters.
She slammed those who had described her husband’s decision as “drama” “It is wrong the way the media is presenting the episode,” she said. Kejriwal will be produced in court tomorrow and is likely to get bail.
Late this evening, the former chief minister attended meditation classes with some other inmates and was served dinner around 7.30pm, said Tihar spokesperson Gupta, adding Kejriwal had become a centre of attraction.
Three guards have been posted outside his cell. “We did not want to compromise on his security as he has been attacked at public events several times,” Gupta said.
A large number of inmates had gathered to catch a glimpse of the AAP founder when he was brought to the prison last evening.
Yogendra Yadav, among the senior AAP leaders who gad gathered outside the Tihar gates last evening, received bail today from a Delhi court. He had been arrested for violating the prohibitory orders in force near the jail.
Yadav was given bail after he furnished a bond of Rs 5,000. The police told the court they were ready to release Yadav last night as the offence was bailable, but he expressed inability to give the surety. “He should have done it last night itself,” an officer said.
Kejriwal had refused to furnish his bond yesterday on the ground that he was “not a criminal”.
AAP leaders have termed the court’s decision “erroneous”, arguing it is not mandatory under the law for a defendant in a defamation case to furnish a bail bond when he is willing to attend the hearings.
Today, an aide of Yadav sought to make a distinction between his case and that of Kejriwal.
“He was arrested for violating prohibitory orders while Kejriwal was sent to jail by the court. We will move a higher court tomorrow against the lower court’s order to send Kejriwal to jail for a bailable offence,” the aide said.