The BJP and Congress kept a close watch on the numbers as the Aam Aadmi Party gathered at Jantar Mantar, demanding fresh elections to the Delhi Assembly.
Senior leaders of both the parties were in touch with their friends in the media as well as the local police to know how many actually responded to AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal’s call.
With re-election to Delhi Assembly almost a certainty now — the only thing to be seen is how soon it happens — the two traditional rivals wanted to know if AAP, which managed to turn the tables on the Congress and the BJP in its debut election in December last year, still enjoyed a similar support.
The local leaders of the two parties, who were initially vocal when the crowd was thin, fell silent as the narrow street facing the dais swelled with people of all age groups vowing their support to AAP.
The BJP and Congress, however, later called the rally Arvind Kejriwal’s political gimmick. “Everyone knows that Assembly elections in Delhi will be held soon but Shri Kejriwal was deliberately enacting a drama to divert the attention of the common people from core issues,” Delhi Congress’s chief spokesperson Mukesh Sharma said.
“Where is Jan Lokpal and Swaraj on which Arvind Kejriwal built his entire political movement? Why is he not questioning soaring prices and rising crimes now? Why after accepting donations from people all over the world is AAP not contesting elections in other states?” Sharma added.
Almost decimated from Delhi, Congress’ political fortunes are now completely dependent on how well AAP performs in the next election. If the new political outfit continues to enjoy support especially among the poor and the minority, the chances of the revival of the grand old party would be bleak.
Delhi BJP general secretary and south Delhi MP Ramesh Bidhuri said Kejriwal was “shedding crocodile tears”.
“In its 60-year-old history, the BJP or Jana Sangh has never run away from elections. Arvind Kejriwal and his party have repeatedly changed their political stand in just two years of existence. Why did Kejriwal and his MLAs meet the L-G after Lok Sabha elections to explore the possibility of government formation when he had recommended dissolution of the Assembly while resigning and later took the matter to court?” BJP’s Ramesh Bhiduri, Shikha Rai and Jai Prakash said in a joint statement.
“Even after spending lakhs on publicity, AAP could collect a motley crowd of around 3,500 people at Jantar Mantar and even for this they had to use chartered buses.
It is strange that AAP, which used to criticised other political parties for using chartered buses, hired buses to bring in people,” the statement said.