The first Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) rally in the capital since Lok Sabha polls had a single antagonist — the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
As the crowds surging into Jantar Mantar greeted the party leaders — for whom this rally was a litmus test of support in case Delhi goes to polls again — AAP senior leader Yogendra Yadav explained why this rally was different.
“Previously, we were here with big demands that we knew the UPA government couldn’t meet. We wanted action against 15 corrupt ministers. Today our demand is much simpler — we want BJP to stop running away from elections in Delhi,” Yadav said.
While previous rallies at Jantar Mantar had seen the party take up arms against a range of issues — corruption in the system, the Congress, BJP, regional political parties, the media and corporate houses — the agenda on Sunday was singular: Elections in Delhi.
In Arvind Kejriwal’s 30-minute speech, ‘BJP’ was referred to at least 24 times. Punctuating this speech were repeated attacks on Modi. “On one hand, he (Modi) is promising to bring bullet trains in Delhi. At the same time, he is not able to fix electricity poles. Are you running Delhi or a dharamshala?” Kejriwal said.
Whether it was AAP’s Punjab MP Bhagwant Mann reciting a satirical poem, “Ache Din” or Gopal Rai striking out at Rajnath Singh for “trying to influence the Lt-Governor in order to install a dishonest government” or Manish Sisodia promising a reduction in prices — the allegation that “BJP was running away from elections” because the “Modi wave had ended” remained the central theme.
“The BJP doesn’t want elections in Delhi because they know they’ll lose... only the AAP can solve Delhi’s problems,” Kejriwal said.
Along with the BJP, Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung was also at the receiving end of AAP’s fire. While Kejriwal alleged that Jung, in order to save his chair, was “dancing to BJP’s tune”, former Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti claimed that Jung had been “Modified (Modikaran)”.
Ending the speech, and the rally, Kejriwal issued a challenge to both the BJP and the Congress to contest elections, while giving the Lt-Governor an ultimatum — a week’s time to dissolve the Assembly. “We will fix the corrupt. AAP will form a government in Delhi within five months,” Kejriwal said.
- Aniruddha Ghosal