Rural crowds from Haryana and Rajasthan outnumbered Delhiites at a 50,000-strong rally at the Ramlila Maidan yesterday in support of foreign direct investment, which was addressed by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi hit back at detractors asserting that the recent slew of economic reforms would benefit the country and create more jobs. “We deployed 2,600 buses to ferry people to Delhi,” said Mukesh Sharma, parliamentary secretary to Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.
Around 1,500 police personnel and hundreds of Special Protection Group (SPG) commandos were deployed at the venue, which had a carnival atmosphere. However, chaos reigned on the capital’s roads, as the mega rally led to massive traffic snarls in several parts of the city, especially in central and old Delhi.
The rally saw hundreds of buses arrive in the capital to ferry party workers and supporters from Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and other areas to Ramlila Maidan. The long lines of buses and cars led to traffic getting choked around most parts of Delhi.
“Serpentine queues of vehicles were seen in several parts of the city as the rally ended and the crowds rushed out of the ground to catch their buses or trains, which led to the jam,” said a Delhi Police official.
Roads around the ground and those leading to nearby bus terminals and railway stations remained choked for hours and the jams had a spillover effect on other parts of the city too.
The situation worsened when the hundreds of parked buses — the lineup spreading to a few kilometers — started moving towards the ground after the rally was over.
The traffic jam spoilt any thought of a relaxed Sunday outing for many and held up others out on important work.
“These politicians have nothing better do than spoil our Sunday? Irrespective of the party, it is the common man who has to suffer — be it a rally or a protest,” said 34-year-old Ravi Bhan, an HR executive.
“I had made plans with friends of catching a movie followed by lunch as we only get one off in a week on Sundays. But thanks to this rally, everything was ruined,” lamented 28-year-old Jagriti Sukhani, an advertising professional.
The jams also played a major spoilsport for those who had ventured out to visit markets ahead of the festive season.
“I wanted to shop for new attires and some decorative stuff for the house ahead of Diwali but this jam has put a spanner to our plan. Political parties must have some concern for ordinary people,” said Sneha Singh, a resident of Lajpat Nagar in south Delhi who had planned to visit Karol Bagh in central Delhi.