On the directions of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, senior party leaders from Uttar Pradesh would hold a protest march in support of arrested party MLA Ajai Rai in Varanasi on October 20. The decision came soon after the police invoked NSA on Rai, who was arrested for violence during the Anyay Pratikar Yatra on October 5 in Varanasi.
Rai was arrested for his alleged role in the violence and arson during the march organised by sadhus and other local leaders against police lathicharge in September on protesters, who were opposing the high court ban on the immersion of Ganesha idols in Ganga. He was arrested on October 6 as soon as he had landed at Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport in Babatpur (Varanasi) from New Delhi. He was later shifted to Fatehgarh District Jail.
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Targeting the Akhilesh government for allegedly working on BJP’s directions, Congress leaders would hold a march from the state party headquarters in Lucknow to Raj Bhavan in Lucknow on October 20.
The delegation would include AICC General Secretary Madhusudan Mistry and secretaries in-charge of the state, Rajya Sabha MPs, MLAs and former MPs.
Mistry, who will lead the march, would hand over a memorandum to Governor Ram Naik, alleging bias on part of the government and demanding Rai’s release.
“There is complete jungleraj in Uttar Pradesh and the SP government is working on the directions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and has become puppet in the hands of BJP. BJP MLAs had also taken part in the march on October 5 but the SP government acted with vengeance and only booked our leaders, who were marching peacefully,” said Satyadev Tripathi, chairman of UPCC communication department.
He added that besides Mistry, AICC secretaries Rana Goswami, Prakash Joshi, Naseeb Singh and Rana Goswami; Congress Rajya MPs like Raj Babbar, P L Punia and Sanjay Sinh will take part in the march on October 20. Former MPs and MLAs, along with AICC members from UP and UPCC office-bearers have also been asked to be present for the march, said Tripathi.
“The SP chief and the state government are taking biased action only to please Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Otherwise, BJP MLAs, Hindu Yuva Vahini and Vishwa Hindi Parishad workers would have been booked instead of Congress and Youth Congress leaders,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, a fact-finding team of the party — comprising former Union ministers Sriprakash Jaiswal and Pradeep Jain Aditya and Congress Legislative Party leader Pradeep Mathur — would visit Varanasi on October 16. They would meet local leaders and sadhus, who had taken part in the October 5 march.