The Delhi Police has denied permission to RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal for a protest called by him in the capital tomorrow. Mr Kejriwal has called for the public to gherao or protest at the homes of the Prime Minister, BJP president Nitin Gadkari and also Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Sunday. But despite the denial, Mr Kejriwal is confident that his supporters will join him in large numbers. "It will only strengthen our protest. We will not back down," he told NDTV.
In a letter written to India Against Corruption (IAC), a movement fronted by Mr Kejriwal and Gandhian activist Anna Hazare, the Delhi Police said today that it cannot allow people to gather for the protest because Parliament is in session and hence prohibitory orders are in place in most parts of Delhi.
Explaining the reason for the denial, the police also alleged that the IAC was unable to control the crowds at a protest called by it last month. "During the previous dharna it was observed that you (IAC) had no control whatsoever neither on the speakers on stage nor on the participants of the programme as a result of which violations were noticed...Despite signing undertaking last time, IAC was unable to enforce conditions on the participants of the dharna and fast and this office cannot rely on the assurances given by you in the form of the undertaking," the Delhi Police letter read.
But Mr Kejriwal denies the charges. In fact, he has hit out at the Delhi police and said that it has become "slaves of corrupt government."
Mr Kejriwal has asked people to gather at Jantar Mantar at 10 am in the capital tomorrow. "Congress and BJP have got together to loot Rs 1.86 lakh crore in coal scam. (There will be) gherao of Prime Minister's and Nitin Gadkari's residences. Let us assemble at Jantar Mantar on August 26 (at) 10 AM," he tweeted on Thursday. Today, he called for protests at Congress President Sonia Gandhi's residence too.
But the Delhi Police is leaving no stone unturned to block protesters. It has asked the Delhi Metro to close six stations from 8 am to 6 pm on Sunday. The IAC has slammed the move and has termed it as "murder of people's democratic and fundamental rights." It has however vowed to continue with the demonstration.
Questioning the move to close Metro stations, Mr Kejriwal said today, "When other rallies are organised by BJP, Congress and other political parties, none of the Metro stations are closed. It is evident that the government is afraid of the people of this country. Only six metro stations will be closed tomorrow. I am confident people will come."
Former Team Anna member and top cop Kiran Bedi also pitched in to condemn the move. "Closing metro stations to make it inconvenient for people to come to Jantar Mantar Rally tomorrow is completely undemocratic," she posted on Twitter this morning. However, she seemed to differ with Mr Kejriwal on the plan of action to root out corruption.
"I fully support Arvind's call for Jan Mantar rally. While I feel we need to focus on party in power,I respect his+others view to cover all! (sic)," she wrote on the micro-blogging site.
"This is time for 'a united front against corruption'. If we keep fragmented the corrupt will continue to be in power to protect itself (sic)," she added.
While Ms Bedi wants the protests to focus on just the party in power, Mr Kejriwal in fact is in favour of expanding its ambit. "Residences of Shiv Raj Singh Chauhan, Raman Singh and Naveen Patnaik will also be gheroed tomo in their respective states (sic)," he tweeted today. Two of these three chief ministers are from the BJP.
When asked about his reactions to Ms Bedis's comments, Mr Kejriwal said he welcomed her opinion. "There could be two view points on one agenda and we welcome this. She has raised an interesting debate on whether a change of government will bring change," he said.
(With Inputs from PTI)