New Delhi: On a day when the standoff between Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and L-G Anil Baijal entered the seventh day, hundreds of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) workers and supporters buoyed by a support by CPI(M) and Left workers, trooped into the heart of the national capital to raise support for the protesting cabinet.
The rally of thousands, however, failed to reach its destination — 7, Lok Kalyan Marg, the Prime Minister’s residence.
Amid the ongoing sit-in at the lieutenant governor's office, the AAP began the march from Mandi House but were stopped at Parliament Street police station.
Five prime Metro stations were shut for several hours in the afternoon in view of the protest march, causing much inconvenience to commuters.
With party spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj claiming a participation of over 45,000 people, the mega rally was a major show of strength for the AAP as almost all the key party faces, including Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh, Kailash Gahlot, Rajendra Pal Gautam took part in the two-hour march.
The march concluded peacefully without any untoward incident as AAP workers and leaders lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Lt Governor Anil Baijal over a host of issues, including the demand of full statehood for Delhi and condemnation of IAS officers' "strike".
In a tweet during the march, Kejriwal said the people were feeling "hurt and humiliated" and asked PM Narendra Modi to allow Delhi government to work.
"Sir, not only Delhi, but the entire country is appealing you - please allow the elected government to work and get these IAS officers strike to end. People are feeling hurt and humiliated," he tweeted.
Expressing solidarity with the AAP, CPI(M) supremo Yechury joined the march at Mandi House and said, "Joining the protest rally to the Prime Minister's residence today to express serious condemnation over the manner in which federalism, a fundamental feature of our Constitution, is being undermined by this BJP Central government."
The AAP took out the protest march amid the police maintaining that no permission was sought for the march and warning protesters of detaining them for breaching prohibitory orders clamped in New Delhi district.
"Despite sinister efforts by Delhi Police like closing of Metro stations, seizing of buses and heavy barricading, a total of 538 buses reached the spot. A crowd of over 45,000 people reminds me of 2011-12 movement in Delhi," said Bhardwaj.
"The then Congress government too had tried to stop us. The Modi government is trying to do it now. It shows the government is 'scared' of AAP," he said.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia also claimed that people came on streets despite police stopping the buses and guarding offices of the party MLAs.
"Despite all the attempts of Modi government - stopping of buses and guarding of MLAs offices - people took to street. This reminds of 2011 movement, the same spirit and passion," he tweeted.
The protest march began around 4.45 pm and reached the Parliament Street police station around 6 pm when it was stopped at a barricade erected by the police.
A large number of policemen were deployed at Mandi House and along the route of the march to handle any untoward situation.