Shouting slogans like an agitator, signing files like an administrator and slamming the system like the opposition, it was chief minister-cum-activist at work on Monday.
For the first time in the Capital, a chief minister staged a dharna at the seat of the Central government next to Parliament Annexe along with his six ministers and called out to the public and honest police officials to leave work and join them in their protest.
Section 144 had already been enforced in New Delhi, but that did not stop Kejriwal from gathering his supporters. He reached the Delhi Secretariat before 9 am, held a meeting with his colleagues and left for North Block, as promised, by 10.30am amid high security outside his office. Police and media vehicles followed him as he drove to the proposed protest site in his blue WagonR.
“Yahin pe rok ke rakhenge, aage nahi jaane denge (Will stop here, won’t let him go further),” buzzed the wireless sets of Delhi Police officials deployed at Rail Bhawan. Minutes later Kejriwal arrived with supporters flashing placards, shouting, “Dilli police haye-haye.”
The crowds swelled as the day progressed and so did the arrangements by the police. Water cannons were put on standby while the Rapid Action Force took its position.
“We have come to show our support to the CM. We shall always stand by him,” said Sharda Mendiratta, who came with her daughter from Paschim Vihar. Another visitor, Gaurav Bagga from Karol Bagh, however added, “I have never seen a CM acting like this. Is he the government or the opposition?”
By the evening, minor clashes had erupted though the protest was peaceful throughout the day. In the evening, a number of AAP leaders, including Sanjay Singh and former journalist Ashutosh, had heated arguments with the police for allegedly manhandling their supporters including Model Town MLA Akhilesh Tripathi. They claimed that transport minister Saurabh Bharadwaj had been detained by the police but the latter denied it.
Kejriwal was surrounded by his supporters and security officials all through the day. He started walking around and chatting with his supporters after it was dark.
Chilly weather notwithstanding, Kejriwal and his ministers decided to stay put there at night even as the crowd started thinning.