Arvind Kejriwal along with his supporters during his election road show in New Delhi on Tuesday
B B Yadav
Day-long meetings and intensive strategising on how to put up a show of strength seem to have paid off for the Aam Aadmi Party, as massive numbers poured onto the streets for party’s CM candidate Arvind Kejriwal’s rally-cum-road show on Tuesday. The roadshow was scheduled to culminate in Kejriwal visiting his old Jamnagar house, where he launched his 2013 campaign from, and filing his nomination papers from there. However, slowed down by the sheer number of jhadu wielding, topi-clad supporters on the roads, he only made it to Goldakhana, GPO, by his deadline, where the police had to ask him to put an end to the rally. Kejriwal will now file his nomination on Wednesday by himself, as he told the waiting crowd.People from across Delhi, and reportedly Haryana, started gathering at Valmiki Mandir and the lanes of its basti, from 9am. An AAP volunteer dressed as Gandhi with an AAP placard was seen standing in the middle of the RK Ashram Marg crossing, startling the vehicles driving by, while AAP’s own band sang in one corner attracting curious onlookers.By the time Kejriwal arrived at the basti, at 11:50, the numbers had swelled substantially. By the time he hit the road, a rough approximation could put the number of people to 5000. Accompanying Kejriwal were Manish Sisodia, Aushutosh, Sanjay Singh, Somnath Bharti and also Bhagwant Mann, the comedian and AAP MP from Punjab. Also spotted in one of the three trucks accompanying Kejriwal was Cheena Maharaj, the spiritual leader of Valmiki Mandir and the basti of Dalit, labour class residents. His presence is an indicator of the basti’s support for the AAP.Valmiki Basti, once home to Mahatma Gandhi, has significance as Kejriwal’s starting point. The votes of this basti have been a point of contention between AAP and BJP. PM Modi had launched his Swachch Bharat Abhiyan from here. Today, however, the only brooms being wielded were in clear support of AAP.Kejriwal started the day with asking for blessings not only from the temple but also the people, who responded with loud roars of support. Addressing the crowd at near the Mandir, and later at Goldakhana, he exhorted them to forgo eating, sleeping and drinking for the next 15 days, and work hard to get their party to power.He also repeated his challenge to Kiran Bedi for a public debate, which he had made earlier in the morning on twitter. AAP insiders have been saying that the party is not troubled by Bedi joining BJP, and their only strategy to counter her is to show their own strength on the streets. They are confident she wouldn’t stand up against Kejriwal in a public, issue based debate. To them, taking her on is a desperate move by the BJP, who are worried about AAP’s re-emergence in the city.Jubilant in their leader’s presence, the thousands in the rally marched, sang, danced, beat drums, stuck brooms to their cars and autos like many antennas, as they walked from Valmiki Basti, crossing the Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha on their way.
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