In his first show of strength in the capital after he became president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday led a demonstration in New Delhi to protest against the rise in food prices.
Hundreds of party supporters joined the protest at Jantar Mantar. The BJP alleged that the government's "wrong" economic policies were responsible for spiralling prices of essential commodities.
Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj along with Murli Manohar Joshi, Ananth Kumar and Vijay Goel were among other prominent party leaders who joined the rally.
BJP supporters in large numbers carried party flags and posters highlighting the government's alleged apathy towards the issue.
Amid cries like "Sugar is no longer sweet" they shouted slogans against Prime Minster Manmohan Singh, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.
"Prices of everything are shooting up unabated. Ministers are involved in this scam. The prime minister, Sonia and Pawar are involved. We have to expose this," party general secretary Ananth Kumar said in his address to the rally.
The protest, which comes as the government is planning a hike in petrol prices, is part of the BJP's nationwide agitation against price rise.
Gadkari is planning a three-tier protest against rising prices, at block, district and state levels.
The party workers will march towards Parliament House with senior BJP leaders likely to join them.
The Delhi unit of the BJP is keen to make the protest a success because the newly appointed BJP chief, who was formally elected unopposed Tuesday, is participating in a rally in the capital for the first time.
BJP's general secretary Vijay Goel said representatives of several social organisations and residents' welfare associations joined the rally.
"The Congress party government is synonymous with rising prices. Dal chawal (food) is getting out of reach of the common man and the government is sleeping over it. It is an incompetent government to handle issues related to poor. The Congress hand is out to strangle the aam aadmi," Goel said.
The rally also assumes importance because the Delhi unit of the BJP is going to appoint its new chief -- a decision, which the party top brass has postponed till the national executive meeting.