On the second day of his protest, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today upped the ante, threatening to flood Rajpath, the venue of Republic Day celebrations, with lakhs of supporters demanding action against policemen who refused to carry out a raid on an alleged drug and prostitution ring.
Arvind Kejriwal. Pic/AFP
He ruled out any negotiations to scale down the protest, saying the safety of women in the capital is not a matter of negotiation. "We will continue our protest. How can Home Minister (Sushilkumar) Shinde sleep when so many crimes are happening in Delhi? When women are unsafe in the city? We won't negotiate," Kejriwal told reporters.
Unlike yesterday, hundreds of AAP supporters thronged the venue of the dharna outside Rail Bhavan in the high security area close to the venue of Republic Day preparations. The Chief Minister along with his six cabinet colleagues and scores of supporters spent the night outside the Rail Bhavan, the venue of their protest, braving the cold winter.
Kejriwal slept on the road under the open sky while some of his supporters spent the night singing and raising slogans around a bonfire. A number of cabinet ministers also slept on the road. Kejriwal threatened that "If the demands are not met then lakhs of our supporters will come to Rajpath. They (the Centre) must listen to the people."
Attacking the Home Minister, he said he will not shift to Jantar Mantar as requested by the police and the Centre will have to accept his demand for action against the policemen who had refused to act against the alleged drug and prostitution racket. "Have the people of Delhi given them the right to make decisions for them? No.They have given me the right. How can Shinde ask me where to sit? I will tell him where to sit," he said.
The Chief Minister also accused the police of harassing his supporters at the protest venue and said the area has been turned into a jail. "They have turned this small area into a jail. There are not toilets here. I was using a toilet at Rail Bhavan here yesterday. Today they have even closed that. We had arranged a public toilet somehow yesterday which they did not allow to bring here. They are even not allowing food to be brought here.
"I had to go to the barricade myself to bring the tea inside. The people protesting here are not Pakistanis or Americans. They are our own people. Where will the women go for using a toilet? Has Shinde announced a war against the people?," he said.
Criticising Shinde, Kejriwal said the Home Minister had "suspended" a number of policemen after some people barged into his residence few months back but no action is taken if women are harassed. "He (Shinde) is saying that we will celebrate Republic Day but for whom? The VIPS will watch the parades. That is not Republic Day celebration. "Someone was telling me that a window was broken by protestors at Shinde's residence few months ago.12 policemen were suspended. When a woman is raped, he says we will get an inquiry done but won't suspend the police," he charged.
"A woman was burnt but police is not arresting anyone as they will first get an inquiry done. R K Singh was right in saying that it is money which reaches the top," he said. Asking Shinde to support the common man's cause, the Chief Minister claimed that there will be "rebellion" in Delhi Police as lower level police officials were with AAP. "A man resigned and came to join us. He had tears in his eyes. Another man who was shouting slogans in our favour was suspended. There will be a rebellion in Delhi Police too," he said.
Coming down hard on the Home Minister, Kejriwal also accused him of trying to "run" Delhi and justified his protest, saying political discourse in the country has undergone a change. "We were elected by the people. They approach us. We asked Shinde in a meeting if people approach him when women are raped or burnt. He said 'no'. But people come to us and ask what are you doing.Who is Shinde to run Delhi? He is beginning to think he is the Chief Minister of Delhi," he alleged.
"Politics will now be run by these unconventional methods. The political discourse of India has changed forever now. This is democracy," he said. Kejriwal blamed Shinde for the inconvenience caused to people due to closing down of a number of Metro stations around Central Delhi. "Shinde has closed the metro stations.I had told Metro officials to run the Metro. They said they cannot do it as Delhi Police has closed them. Shinde is causing inconvenience not only to us but also to the general public. He has closed the Metro stations," he said.