Delhi Echoes with Slogans for Kejriwal


Metros, Delhi

The BJP also held protests demanding the chief minister’s resignation with slogans like “Kejriwal istifa do”

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) activists shout slogans during a protest near India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi residence in New Delhi on March 26, 2024. (AFP)

New Delhi: The AAP leaders and workers took to the streets on Tuesday against Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s arrest, with many being detained as they tried to march towards the Prime Minister’s residence on Lok Kalyan Marg raising slogans “Inquilab zindabad” and “Kejriwal zindabad.” The BJP also held protests demanding the chief minister’s resignation with slogans like “Kejriwal istifa do”.

Amid the ongoing debate on whether Mr Kejriwal can continue to work as the chief minister from prison, the Delhi chief minister for the second time issued directions from the ED custody to ensure that medicines and tests are available to people at all government hospitals and mohalla clinics.

Delhi Assembly has also called a special session on Wednesday to discuss health facilities and availability of free medicines and tests in the city hospitals.

Also, Mr Kejriwal’s petition, seeking immediate release and calling his arrest and the subsequent ED remand “illegal”, is listed for hearing before Delhi high court Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma at 10.30 am on Wednesday.

The chief minister’s petition seeking an urgent hearing last week could not be taken up as the high court was closed on account of Holi. Mr Kejriwal, who has been remanded to ED custody in the alleged Delhi excise policy scam, is to be produced before the Rouse Avenue court at 2 pm on Thursday.

In a post on X, city health minister Saurabh Bharadwaj said, “Tomorrow is the session of Delhi Assembly. The chief secretary has been ordered to inform the status of free medicines and free tests in hospitals and mohalla clinics and if there is any deficiency, then come up with a complete plan to correct it. So that I can inform the Assembly.”

Sharing details of the chief minister's order, Mr Bharadwaj told a press conference that healthcare in Delhi has always been Mr Kejriwal’s priority. He said Mr Kejriwal believes that even though he has been arrested, people in Delhi should not face any problems getting free tests and medicines in government hospitals and mohalla clinics.

“He has issued a direction to me to address the issues. The health department will act immediately to address the issues,” the minister said.

Last week, the AAP national convenor, who is in ED custody till March 28, issued directions to water minister Atishi to address the water and sewer issues in some parts of the city.

Taking cognisance of the Delhi CM’s order from the custody, the ED, it is learnt, will ascertain if it is in line with the legal provisions.

The Delhi government, meanwhile, has appealed to citizens not to fall prey to misinformation being spread by "notorious elements" who are trying to “take advantage” of the situation arising from the arrest of the chief minister.

A note signed by planning department secretary Niharika Rai assured that the Delhi government’s welfare schemes and subsidies will continue. The note read: “…administration of schemes and governance are never specific to individuals and shall continue in the normal course, as in the past.”

As protests and counter-protests continued in the national capital, several AAP leaders, including Somnath Bharti, Delhi Assembly deputy Speaker Rakhi Birla and Punjab minister Harjot Singh Bains, were detained by the police while heading towards the Prime Minister’s residence.

Claiming that the Delhi police has turned the national capital into a “fortress”, AAP Delhi unit convenor Gopal Rai said that the way the BJP-led Central government has imposed restrictions under Section 144 “across the city,” it seems Delhi has become a “police state.”

Mr Rai claimed that women workers of his party were dragged and detained. He asserted that the fight against the “dictatorship” in the country is the struggle of those who love democracy and the Constitution and announced that preparations are now underway for a “maha rally” at Delhi’s Ramlila Ground on March 31.

While the AAP protested against Mr Kejriwal’s arrest, senior BJP leader and MP Harsh Vardhan said the Delhi CM should resign on moral grounds and give his responsibility to someone else.

The BJP workers and leaders gathered near the Ferozshah Kotla stadium and marched towards the Delhi Secretariat, carrying their party’s flag and raising slogans such as “Kejriwal sharm karo” and “Kejriwal istifa do”.

At least 57 BJP protesters, including the party's Delhi chief Virendra Sachdeva, were detained as they tried to march towards the Delhi Secretariat, pressing for the CM’s resignation. The police also used water cannons when they tried to break through a layer of barricades.

The police said some workers climbed over barricades while marching towards the secretariat. “To disperse the protestors, water cannons were used. Some of them were detained from near the Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg when they tried to break through a layer of barricades,” a police officer said.