Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been denied permission to hold a public rally at Sindhkhed Raja in Buldhana district by the local police, days before the event. The Aam Aadmi Party chief was scheduled to address a public rally at Sindhkhed Raja on January 12, after paying his respects at a memorial of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s mother Jijamata, on the occasion of her birth anniversary. Buldhana Police, however, have said they would not be able to make adequate security arrangements for the rally, and refused to grant permission for it. AAP leaders, on the other hand, claimed that the denial of permission had come at the ‘last minute’.
Senior party leader Preeti Sharma-Menon said, “Since December 17, we had been in touch with local police over the proposed rally. The venue and other details were finalised only after consulting them. The last moment denial of permission is unexpected”. The event was ostensibly an effort to relaunch the AAP in Maharashtra, with several prominent figures expected to join the party at the January 12 rally.
Kejriwal’s visit to Maharashtra next week was seen as an attempt to boost the morale of the party workers, while the rally on January 12 was an event to mark the “re-emergence of the party from the shadows”, said sources in AAP. However, Sharma-Menon claimed that Kejriwal would go ahead and pay his respects to Jijamata on January 12, “with or without police permission”.
“Police have asked us to change the venue, but we told them that’s not logistically feasible for us. Unlike other parties, we have limited resources and our volunteers may not be able to make it to the other venue at the drop of a hat,” she said.
After its victory in the 2013 Delhi Assembly elections, AAP had received support from various social groups in the state, and veteran activists like Medha Patkar, among others, had joined the party. Patkar was among the AAP members who contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Maharashtra, but the party failed to win a single seat in the state. The AAP’s Maharashtra unit then decided to focus on building its base in the state. In spite of facing some setbacks, like prominent leader Anjali Damania’s decision to leave the party, AAP leaders said they wanted to strengthen the grassroot network of party workers.
Over the last few years, AAP has taken up various state issues, and leaders like Sharma-Menon and others claimed to have “unearthed” various scams. They have also accused senior BJP and Shiv Sena leaders of being involved in them.