With the AAP returning to Jantar Mantar, the protest site that has seen numerous rallies and dharnas by the party, it was a familiar scene on Sunday. People surged in, chanting slogans and carrying AAP banners. But in Sunday’s rally, despite apparent similarities some key differences remained.
# While India Against Corruption rallies — which featured Kejriwal with Anna Hazare — drew huge crowds, AAP’s previous rallies at Jantar Mantar had been sparsely attended. This changed on Sunday, with large crowds turning up.
# While the absence of Hazare alongside Kejriwal at Jantar Mantar is no longer surprising, both Kumar Vishwas and Shazia Ilmi were notably absent. While Ilmi had tendered her resignation previously, Vishwas is said to be in the United States.
# The urban, middle-class voter was also absent. Once the core support-base of the party, AAP leaders confessed that their support had waned after Kerjwal’s resignation as Delhi CM.
# In his speech, Kejriwal stayed away from much deliberation on his demand for the Jan Lokpal Bill or the Swaraj Bill. Instead, he chose to focus on demand for elections in Delhi. He didn’t speak about his resignation as chief minister either.
# This time, Kejriwal didn’t even make overt attacks on corporate houses, including Reliance and the Adani Group or the media. It was only in passing that he mentioned, “I had filed an FIR with the Anti-Corruption Branch against Mukesh Ambani.”
# References to past rallies at Jantar Mantar were made by party leaders. But these were not rallies held by AAP. Instead most leaders spoke about rallies that had taken place under the aegis of India Against Corruption.
# Kejriwal repeatedly exalted his 49-day rule in Delhi, while comparing it with the present state of ‘misrule’, for which he blamed the BJP
# The spontaneity amongst the crowd was missing on Sunday. A fleet of buses parked outside motivated opposition parties to allege that the crowd had been “bought”. But AAP, claimed that these people had come from far-flung places for the rally.
# Barring UPSC students, who attended the rally, attendance among students was not to be seen. Previous rallies had seen massive support from college students.
# Previously, AAP had sought the help of their Haryana unit to mobilise crowds prior to their protest outside Rail Bhawan in January. On Sunday, apart from supporters from Haryana, large numbers turned up from Punjab, reflecting the party’s success in the state in the Lok Sabha elections and significant boosted the numbers.