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Nagendra Prajapati, 45, is not a member of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). On Monday, 27 February, however, was among hundreds of people (mostly AAP workers) protesting against the arrest of Delhi's deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia outside the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headquarters at Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay marg in New Delhi.
"I am not an AAP worker but I am a father and my children are studying in a Delhi government school in Narela. I am here to support the education of my children," Prajapati said.
Sisodia, who heads 18 departments of the Delhi government including education and finance, was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation after hours of questioning on Sunday.
He is under scanner for his alleged involvement in the liquor policy scam and was sent to CBI remand till 4 March by the Rouse Avenue court.
Meanwhile, outside the AAP office, posters saying 'Shiksha mantri tujhe salaam (Education Minister, we salute you!), songs from a 2002 Hindi feature film -- The Legends of Bhagat Singh (Mera rang de basanti chola...), and slogans calling the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) an 'authoritarian government' flanked the streets.
Several of these protesters were then detained by the Delhi Police for flouting norms under Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which prohibits unlawful assembly of people.
Special CP (Law and Order) Deependra Pathak said, "Effective and robust police arrangement is in place on the ground to maintain law and order."
The Quint spoke to AAP MLAs, councillors, party workers, and volunteers to understand the impact of Sisodia's arrest, their next course of action and, the sentiment on ground.
'AAP's Electoral Performance Is Making BJP Nervous'
"We won the Delhi assembly election, then Punjab, (made an impact in) Gujarat, and even the MCD polls. They are nervous," said Pinki Singh, an AAP worker since 2018. Several other party workers at the protest echoed Singh's sentiment.
Speaking to The Quint, Saurabh Bharadwaj — party MLA from Greater Kailash — said that the BJP is "misusing" the investigating agencies in the run up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
"That the BJP is misusing the (central) agencies against opposition leaders is no secret. They are scared of Arvind Kejriwal and his party in the run up to the 2024 elections," he said.
Delhi cabinet minister, Gopal Rai, while addressing the media said that Manish Sisodia's arrest is an "attempt to bring Arvind Kejriwal down."
He said, "Parliamentarians in the Delhi assembly wanted to constitute a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) but they chose to arrest Manish Sisodia ji. It shows how they're scared of Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)."
In December 2022, the AAP won 134 out of 250 wards in the Delhi Municipal Corporation elections unseating the BJP after a 15 year rule. The party also made inroads in the BJP stronghold of Gujarat and won the Punjab assembly elections in a landslide victory earlier in the same year.
'...Ready To Fight Till The End'
Suman Seth, 56, drove down to Delhi from Uttarakhand to participate in these protests. A party worker since 2017, Seth said he has no idea what the party high-command is thinking but he is ready to protest till Sisodia is released.
"We don't know what Netaji is thinking or what his next step will be. Him and Sisodia ji are close. He must be hurt. But this is not Congress or any other opposition party which will not stand up for its leaders. We are ready to protest for as long as it takes but we won't back down," Seth said as he shouted slogans comparing the BJP a party of tanashahs (dictators).
Chayya Gaurav Sharma, an councillor from Braham Puri in northeast Delhi, also claimed that it is the BJP defeat in the MCD elections which has made the party nervous.
Sharma, who was also at the protest site said, "They (BJP) have completely lost the plot after their defeat in the MCD elections. While the party leadership has not communicated what happens next, we know that Netaji will not back out. We will fight till Sisodia ji is released. BJP must remember that the people of India are watching."
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