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Pegged on Kejriwal's Arrest, INDIA Bloc Headlines Message of Unity for Cadre

Besides the INDIA leaders' show of unity, cadre across party lines were united against BJP at Ramlila Maidan rally.

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"I stand by INDIA alliance, whether it is for Arvind Kejriwal or for the Congress. I want democracy. I want a true democracy. That is why I came from Tamil Nadu. The BJP is anti-democracy," said 74-year-old Ranganath, a battery shop owner from Tamil Nadu who travelled to Delhi on Saturday to extend his support to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal.

Donning an AAP scarf around his neck and carrying a Congress flag in his hand, he was one of thousands of people who turned up at Delhi's Ramlila Maidan on Sunday, 31 March, to attend the INDIA bloc's 'Maha Rally' in support of Kejriwal.

While he mostly spoke Tamil with broken sentences of English, Ranganath expressed clear views on the need to 'save democracy'.

Besides the INDIA leaders' show of unity, cadre across party lines were united against BJP at Ramlila Maidan rally.

74-year-old Ranganath, a battery shop owner from Tamil Nadu travelled to Delhi on Saturday to extend support to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal and INDIA bloc leaders.

(Photo: Shiv Kumar Maurya/The Quint)

"The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) does not care about the Opposition or the Constitution," he said, a message that was later delivered by every top party leader who addressed the gathering at the rally.

The rally saw the attendance of the top-most INDIA bloc party leaders including Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge, and Rahul Gandhi as well as National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, People's Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti, Samajwadi Pary chief Akhilesh Yadav, Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray, TMC's Derek O'Brien, and CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, among others.

Besides the INDIA leaders' show of unity, cadre across party lines were united against BJP at Ramlila Maidan rally.

Top leaders of INDIA bloc parties at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi on Sunday, 31 March.

(Photo Courtesy: X/@AAP)

Besides the united front put up by the leaders on stage, a consensus on the need to unite against the BJP's 'tanashaahi (dictatorship)' was clear among cadres across party lines who turned up at the rally in huge numbers.

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'There Are No Differences Anymore'

Cadres of the AAP and Congress dominated the venue, with a significant presence of party workers from CPI(M), Rashtriya Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party, and National Student Union of India (NSUI).

Flags of several parties waved together in the air across the seating area, with slogans like 'Kejriwal Zindabad' and 'Jeetega bhai jeetega, INDIA Gathbandhan jeetega', echoing throughout the packed venue.
Besides the INDIA leaders' show of unity, cadre across party lines were united against BJP at Ramlila Maidan rally.

Flags of CPI(M), Congress, and Aam Aadmi Party at the INDIA bloc rally in Ramlila Maidan on 31 March.

(Photo: Shiv Kumar Maurya/The Quint)

By speaking to scores of people from across party lines who were at the rally, one fact was clear – the INDIA bloc leaders, at least for now, have been able to get the message of unity through to the respective party workers.

Prateek Bawankar (31), an AAP member from Nagpur, said that the party workers are ready to work together with Congress workers in Maharashtra in order to strengthen the INDIA bloc.

"The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) wants to weaken the Constitution and bring forth concepts like Manusmriti. We came frm Nagpur to protest against them," Bawankar, a civil engineer at the rally, said.

Besides the INDIA leaders' show of unity, cadre across party lines were united against BJP at Ramlila Maidan rally.

Prateek Bawankar (31), AAP member from Nagpur.

(Photo: Shiv Kumar Maurya/The Quint)

Stressing that the BJP-led government had propagated unemployment, Bawankar said: "There will be no differences anymore. We are giving support (to Congress) in both Punjab and Nagpur now. The AAP workers are uniting with Congress workers everywhere because we want to defeat this dictatorship."

Deepak (19), a student from Haryana and a Congress worker, said that he believed that Kejriwal had been arrested due to political vendetta.

"We will work for AAP workers in Haryana if need be," he said, while carrying pictures of Rahul Gandhi and MP Deepender Hooda.

Besides the INDIA leaders' show of unity, cadre across party lines were united against BJP at Ramlila Maidan rally.

Deepak (19), a student from Haryana and a Congress worker.

(Photo: Shiv Kumar Maurya/The Quint)

Besides the INDIA leaders' show of unity, cadre across party lines were united against BJP at Ramlila Maidan rally.

Krishna Devi (60), a Congress worker from Haryana.

(Photo: Shiv Kumar Maurya/The Quint)

Besides the INDIA leaders' show of unity, cadre across party lines were united against BJP at Ramlila Maidan rally.

Abhishek Yadav (40), spokesperson of Delhi's RJD unit.

(Photo: Shiv Kumar Maurya/The Quint)

Krishna Devi (60), a Congress worker from Haryana, too, condemned Kejriwal's arrest.

"Arresting Kejriwal was wrong. He has seen too many hardships. He has given all services for free, including electricity. Even if it has not happened in Haryana, at least it he did it in Delhi. What did Modi do for Haryana?" she asked.

Abhishek Yadav (40), a spokesperson of Delhi's RJD unit, said that the BJP was using central probe agencies to jail Opposition leaders.

"There are no differences in the alliance anymore. INDIA bloc is united and fighting together. Of course the cadre will help each other on the ground. Seat-sharing has been finalised in both Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Kejriwal's arrest is the first in history where a sitting CM was arrested from his residence. They did the same to Hemant Soren and Lalu Yadav. They (the BJP) have become too arrogant," Yadav said.

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'They Won't Go 400 Paar': AAP Takes Driving Seat

AAP leaders were at the forefront of managing and organising the event on Sunday.

Speaking to The Quint, AAP MLA Sanjeev Jha said that the party aims to send a clear message of unity with Sunday's rally. Slamming the ED and CBI, he said: "What is the point if you are scared to speak up against the government? You are safe as long as the Constitution is safeguarded."

"Everyone is feeling it now (the ironing out of differences between parties). Everyone knows that constitutional and democratic values are no longer safe. This is not the time for differences now. Even if we have any ideological differences, we are not selfish. We have made all kinds of sacrifices and come together only to safeguard the rights given by the Constitution to the people of the country," Jha said.

Meanwhile, AAP spokesperson Priyanka Kakkar accused the government of "hounding" the party's leaders for the past two years.

"They haven't recovered anything from any AAP leaders so far but our leaders are in jail. Kejriwal has been arrested on the basis of a statement which is not sufficient to even book a pick-pocketer of Chandni Chowk," Kakkar said.

"Meanwhile, it is very clear that the kingpin that the ED named, P Sarath Reddy, he donated Rs 60 crore to the BJP after his arrest, he turns an approver, and then the ED let him get bail. What is happening in the country?" Kakkar asked, adding that the crowd at the venue is indicative of the work that Kejriwal had done for the people.

J&K AAP spokesperson Hakim Rizwan, who came to Delhi along with hundreds of AAP supporters, said that the BJP was a danger to jamuriyat.

Besides the INDIA leaders' show of unity, cadre across party lines were united against BJP at Ramlila Maidan rally.

J&K AAP spokesperson Hakim Rizwan (second from right) along with other AAP supporters from J&K.

(Photo: Shiv Kumar Maurya/The Quint)

"The BJP is a threat to the secular, social, Constitutional, and democratic fabric of India.Our message is to safeguard all these principles," he said.

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'Kejriwal Is a Lion': What Top Leaders Said 

The rally was addressed by all top leaders present on stage, including Arvind Kejriwal's wife Sunita Kejriwal.

Here's what leaders said at the event:

Rahul Gandhi: "Have you heard of match-fixing? When by pressuring the umpire, buying the player, scaring the captain, the match is won. This election – Narendra Modi chose the umpires – this 400 seat slogan of his is not possible without fixing EVMs, pressuring the media and social media."

Sunita Kejriwal: "The BJP says that Kejriwal is in jail and he should resign Should he resign? Your Kejriwal is a lion. They won't be able to keep him in jail for long. He is in the hearts of crores of Indians."

Bhagwant Mann: "You can arrest Arvind Kejriwal, but how will you arrest his ideology. In which jail will you send the lakhs of Kejriwals that are born in India. Arvind Kejriwal is not a person, Arvind Kejriwal is the name of an ideology... Today, the INDIA Alliance is together. But they don't want us to be together."

Kalpana Soren: "I am standing in front of you as the voice of 50 per cent of India's women population and 9 percent of the tribal community...Today this gathering in this historic ground is testifying that you all have come from every part of the country to end the dictatorship."

Tejashwi Yadav: "The way Modiji came like an aandhi, he will be uprooted like a toofan. We have come here today to save democracy and the Constitution. Politics of hatred is being done and those who say '400 paar' can say what they want to, but it is the people who will decide."

Akhilesh Yadav: "You sent CM Hemant Soren, CM Arvind Kejriwal to jail… not only the people of India but the people of the world are looking down upon India for that." 

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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