The much-hyped BJP dharna to take on the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) proved to be a non-starter on Tuesday. The party’s faction-ridden Delhi unit could not even gather all its MLAs and councillors at Jantar Mantar, the venue of the protest, let alone party workers.
The dharna against the AAP, for which the BJP had been publicising for a week, was given a miss by senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, who was expected to address the gathering. Many workers who came said they were pressurised by party leaders to attend the dharna. Several workers left in the middle of the dharna, which did not last more than three hours.
While Delhi unit chief Vijay Goel and Harsh Vardhan repeated what they have been saying since the fall of the AAP government, the party cadre protested, saying the dharna could not even bring the party’s district presidents and MLAs on the same stage.
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Even a gathering of the Lingayat community, who had congregated at Jantar Mantar just 50 metres away from where the BJP was holding its dharna, was bigger than the crowd at the latter.
What upset party workers further was the fact that state leaders made no attempt to hide the dissension in the Delhi unit in public. “When one leader started his speech, another left. Other leaders on the stage criticised the party for organising the dharna half-heartedly. It has done more harm to the BJP than to the AAP. We should learn from this episode,” a senior BJP leader present at Jantar Mantar said.
Newly appointed Delhi in-charge Prabhat Jha, who was present at the dharna, launched an attack on the AAP. “The Congress and AAP misrule of 49 days ruined Delhi,” he said.
Goel targeted Shazia Ilmi and Arvind Kejriwal in his address.
Several BJP workers said their pockets were picked at the protest venue. The mismanagement at the dharna could be gauged from the fact that Goel and former Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Jagdish Mukhi lost their shoes. BJP leader Kishan Lal Dhillon’s wallet was stolen.