After several months of work behind the scenes, the Aam Aadmi Party will test political waters in the capital with two large scale public rallies organised this week.
The first one will see former Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal attend a rally with auto-rickshaw drivers at Ramlila Maidan on Thursday. Another rally will be held against the BJP at Jantar Mantar on Sunday.
On Thursday, at the venue where the India Against Corruption movement gathered steam in August 2011, Kejriwal will “listen” to the issues of auto-rickshaw drivers from across the city. The move sees Kejriwal paying attention to the demands of a group that has firmly supported the AAP before the December Assembly elections. The party now hopes to solidify this base, members said.
“Auto-rickshaw drivers have been a massive support for the AAP. It is through them that messages of the AAP, pasted on the back of their auto-rickshaws, could reach people. Just like with e-rickshaw drivers, the AAP is committed to taking up their cause,” a senior party leader said.
The AAP however maintained that no “untoward” promises will be made. “Even in an earlier rally at Burari, Kejriwal had asked drivers to stop overcharging and misbehaving with passengers. If they will refrain from doing these things, the AAP will back their demands. We fully support their demand that policemen must stop fleecing them, but we will always convey that it is a two-way street and change must come from both ends — government and drivers,” a leader said.
Sunday will see the AAP return to Jantar Mantar in a protest against the BJP, accusing the party of “running away from elections”. “This is a stern test for the next election, which will be fought between the AAP and the BJP. The BJP has been shying away from elections and we have publicised this fact… We hope that there will be a large turnout — it will be a signal to both the BJP and us that support for the AAP is once again growing in Delhi,” a senior leader said.