Kala Singh and his wife Amrit Kaur from a nondescript village in Delhi Cantt were among the hundreds who turned up at Congress headquarters Saturday.
But unlike others, they had no clue that they were there to support Sonia and Rahul Gandhi who had a date with the court in connection with the National Herald case.
They were among many slum residents brought in by a local Congressman for a “meeting” to put pressure on the government to stop the jhuggi eviction drive. Singh hoped he would finally get documents for a plot in Baprola, Najafgarh, for which many like him had shelled out a handsome amount.
“We came for the meeting. I don’t know what is happening,” Kaur said. “Let’s leave,” Singh, a resident of Kirby Place, told his wife when it became clear that no “meeting” was taking place.
Cut to Rajendra Rai, a 76-year-old Congress worker who came as he felt “pained because the daughter-in-law of the family which got India independence is being made to suffer like this.”
Rai, a bachelor, has been associated with Congress since 1968. His R K Puram residence has been the party’s election office in the locality for over two decades.
Singh and Rai are among hundreds who assembled at Congress headquarters as the party sought to turn the National Herald issue into an opportunity for political recovery.
Workers were brought in from as far as Rae Bareli, the Lok Sabha constituency of Sonia Gandhi.
Party workers started arriving around 10 am. Seva Dal volunteers went to each worker and asked them not to talk to media.
Seva Dal volunteer Madan Mohan was heard telling workers: “Yeh media wale rassi ka saap bana dete hain. I have been asked to tell you that only spokespersons will talk.”
Among the first leaders to turn up were AICC general secretary Shakeel Ahmed, former minister R P N Singh, Gurudas Kamat and Jitin Prasada.
Randeep Surjewala, head of the party’s communication department, met the spokespersons to give them the “line for the day.” For the next two hours, every spokesperson was busy giving “bites” to quench the insatiable appetite of the electronic media.
By noon, the lawn was full with workers and the front side of the building with party leaders. Soon, MPs, office bearers and senior leaders were addressed by Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mallikarjun Kharge, the party’s leaders in Parliament. They were told to remain there and not proceed to Patiala House court.
As the action in the court began, the leaders entered the building and glued themselves to the TV. Many continued to participate in live television chats.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh was among the first to reach the party headquarters from the court. Soon came Sonia and Rahul. They went to the conference hall to meet the leaders and then came out to speak to the media.
Last night, the party had decided the day’s plan.
Only those concerned with the case were to go to the court. MPs, CWC members and office bearers were to reach Congress headquarters by 1 am. Kharge and Azad were to address the media at 1.30 pm. Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi were to brief the media after the hearing. And Sonia and Rahul were to address the media between 3.45 pm and 4 pm.
Everything went according to the plan. Rather to the T.