Tight security scuttled the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) plan to gherao Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s official residence in Sector 2, Chandigarh, as nearly 15,000 party supporters were stopped at the Chandigarh-SAS Nagar border on Monday.
Later, a delegation of AAP leaders, including Sanjay Singh, in-charge of the party’s affairs in Punjab, state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur, Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann and actorcomedian Gurpreet Ghuggi, was allowed to enter Chandigarh in a police escorted vehicle and meet the chief minister. The AAP is seeking a high-level probe into the ` 12,000-crore missing foodgrain scam and protesting against farmer suicides and rampant drug addiction in the state. While the AAP termed its protest march as “successful”, the chief minister dismissed it as “drama to grab headlines.”
After a week-long preparation by the party for what was to be its biggest showdown against the state government, AAP activists gathered at the local Dussehra ground here. Party leaders alleged that their supporters had been restrained from reaching SAS Nagar by the Akali-BJP government.
Almost 15,000 cops had been moblised in and around Chandigarh for AAP’s gathering which was estimated to cross one lakh.
The area around the official residences of the chief minister and his son deputy chief minister were barricaded by Chandigarh Police. Police was also deployed outside the Punjab and Haryana Raj Bhawan.
All entry points to Chandigarh were sealed leading to traffic chaos at many places through the day.
However, the police bandobast --being coordinated and monitored by the Union ministry of home affairs following intelligence inputs of a possible law and order situation --- in the end seemed to be overkill.
Badal had cancelled all his official engagements for Monday to receive AAP leaders.
Earlier, before meeting Badal, AAP leaders called on Punjab governor Kaptan Singh Solanki and handed him their charter of demands. Then they moved to the CM residence where they were immediately called in. However, they refused to enter the CM house till the media was also allowed inside during the meeting. While AAP leaders sat on a dharna outside his house demanding an “open” meeting with him, the CM came outside his house and met the leaders who then handed him their list of demands while highlighting various issues. They also pressed for resignation of agriculture minister Tota Singh and revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia.
“The CM meeting us was only a political gimmick but we have put forward our demands,” Sanjay Singh told reporters. “In case our demands are not met in a week’s time, we would announce the further course of action”, he added.