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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 29 May 2024

Arrest-hit INDIA at 'biggest court': Action on Arvind Kejriwal becomes unity rally fulcrum

Speaking about the arrests of Opposition leaders and the cases against several members of his family, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav likened Modi to the Puranic king and tyrant Kamsa

Pheroze L. Vincent New Delhi Published 01.04.24, 04:59 AM
Sonia Gandhi with Arvind Kejriwal’s wife Sunita Kejriwal at the INDIA bloc’s Loktantra Bachao Rally at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi on Sunday.

Sonia Gandhi with Arvind Kejriwal’s wife Sunita Kejriwal at the INDIA bloc’s Loktantra Bachao Rally at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi on Sunday. PTI picture.

The INDIA bloc on Sunday staged its third mega rally and its first in the capital, galvanised by the arrest of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in a corruption case, and castigated the BJP’s “arrogance” and targeting of Opposition leaders.

The rally tried to make most of the public sympathy generated by the rash of arrests of Opposition leaders like Kejriwal of the AAP and former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren of the JMM, as well as the freezing of the Congress’s bank accounts.

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The wives of the jailed leaders too addressed the gathering, which concluded with a list of the bloc’s demands towards ensuring free and fair polls.

Soren’s wife Kalpana Murmu said: “Hemant Soren was arrested two months ago. Kejriwal Sir is in jail for 10 days. Till now, no one has been able to prove the allegations against them. Your vote is the biggest court.”

She added: “Lord Ram followed the rules of war and his principles. Even though he was strong, he showed patience and endurance… the way he respected his opponents even after defeating them. We need to truly understand his ideals today.”

Priyanka Gandhi too invoked the Ramayana. “When Lord Ram fought for the truth, he did not have power, resources or even a chariot. Ravan had chariots, resources, an army and gold but Lord Ram had truth, hope, belief, love, kindness, modesty, patience, courage and truth,” she said.

“I want to tell those in power and Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the message of Lord Ram’s life is that power is not permanent, and arrogance gets shattered.”

She laid out five demands on behalf of the INDIA bloc:

The Election Commission of India (EC) should ensure a level playing field in the Lok Sabha polls; The EC should stop the allegedly selective actions of the income-tax department, CBI and the ED against the Opposition; Soren and Kejriwal should be released at once; Attempts to financially cripple the Opposition should stop; A Supreme Court-monitored team should probe the BJP’s alleged extortion through electoral bonds as well as the money-laundering charges against Opposition parties and leaders.

Even CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury invoked the scriptures, making metaphorical use of the account of the churning of the ocean in the Vishnu Purana.

“This is the Amrit Kaal of Kalyug. At that time (during the) churning of the ocean,
the pot of poison went to the good people and the pot of elixir (amrit) went to the bad people. Today also we need to retrieve the elixir from the bad people and use it for the public good,” he said.

Speaking about the arrests of Opposition leaders and the cases against several members of his family, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav likened Modi to the Puranic king and tyrant Kamsa.

“Whenever Kamsa feels scared, he locks people up in jail,” he said.

He drew loud cheers, as did Congress MP Rahul Gandhi who said: “Who chose the umpire? Narendra Modi. Even before the election, they have arrested two of our players.”

Rahul added: “Narendra Modiji is trying to fix this election. They have a ‘400-seat’ slogan. Without EVMs, social media, buying the press, they can’t cross 180 seats. Congress is the biggest Opposition party and in the middle of the elections they have frozen all our accounts.

“The Constitution gives the poor a future, the right to dream…. The BJP wants to change the Constitution to take away the wealth of the people…. If you do not vote with full force, their match-fixing will succeed; if that succeeds, the Constitution will be destroyed.”

Jammu and Kashmir People’s Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti said: “We have seen this for the last five years in J&K…. Three former CMs were put in jail.”

She added: “J&K is a lab to test plans and then these plans are implemented across the country…. They (the BJP) have the most problems with one family, called the Nehru-Gandhis. They went to jail for India’s freedom and gave up their lives for the country. If only we had more families like theirs, we would have reached even farther than the moon today.”

The crowd was made up mostly of AAP, Congress and Left supporters, the bulk of them AAP supporters from Punjab.

There were many concerned citizens, like the 84-year-old retired Bombay High Court judge, Justice B.G. Kolse Patil.

He told The Telegraph: “I came because Rahul Gandhi is firmly against the RSS whose poisonous ideology is the root of our problems. In fact, no one in his family has been as opposed to the RSS as he is.”

Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann, his Jharkhand counterpart Champai Soren, and former chief ministers Sharad Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray of Maharashtra, Farooq Abdullah of Jammu and Kashmir, and Akhilesh Yadav of Uttar Pradesh too addressed the gathering.

Sonia Gandhi was present but did not speak.

DMK parliamentarian Tiruchi N. Siva and Trinamul MP Derek O’Brien read out messages from chief ministers M.K. Stalin of Tamil Nadu and Mamata Banerjee of Bengal, respectively. Leaders of the other INDIA constituents too delivered speeches.

O’Brien said: “Let me state that AITC (Trinamul) was and is with the INDIA bloc.”

Uddhav said: “I have come to support our two sisters Kalpana and Sunita (Kejriwal), and to tell them that the entire country is supporting them as the dictatorial BJP has put their husbands in jail.”

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