Empty chairs, forced attendance allegations cast shadow on INDIA bloc's Delhi rally

New Delhi, March 31 (IANS) Amidst the fervour of the INDIA bloc's much-anticipated ‘Loktantra Bachao’ (Save Democracy) rally at Ramlila Maidan in the national capital, a conspicuous sight of empty chairs caught the attention of attendees and onlookers.

The rally, aimed at asserting the commitment to safeguarding democratic principles ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, found itself embroiled in controversy as allegations surfaced regarding the authenticity of the crowd.

Although INDIA bloc leaders claimed a turnout exceeding 20,000, the reality appeared somewhat different.

Delhi Police had granted permission for a gathering of 20,000 people at the rally.

Furthermore, voices from within the crowd raised concerns about the circumstances surrounding their presence at the event. Several attendees disclosed to IANS that they had been brought to the rally under various pretences, with some unaware of its political nature altogether.

Anand (19), one such attendee, confessed: "I have come here with an event company. We were asked to attend the rally, spend time there, and then return to our houses after refreshments."

Another attendee, Adi, a resident of Sonia Vihar, said, "I came here upon someone's request. I was not aware of the rally."

The suspicion of “coerced” attendance was further substantiated by Raj Verma, another attendee from Sonia Vihar, who said, "I am here to attend the event. Maybe we might get some money. We had to just be visible in the rally."

On Sunday, the leaders representing the INDIA bloc, organised a rally to protest against the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in connection with an alleged money laundering case related to the now-scrapped Delhi liquor policy.

The rally has been called by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is a part of the INDIA bloc.

Among the leaders present at the rally were Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, former Maharashtra Chief Ministers Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar, CPI leader Sitaram Yechury, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, Kalpana Soren (wife of Hemant Soren), Samajwadi Party Chief Akhilesh Yadav, National Conference Chief Farooq Abdullah, PDP Chief Mehbooba Mufti, former Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, and AAP leaders including Gopal Rai, Atishi, and Saurabh Bharadwaj.


traffic analytics