No stone left unturned for Maha Rally
By Tarun Nangia - NEW DELHI
Published: 04th Nov 2012 11:20:01 AM
The Maha rally on the FDI issue being organised by the Congress in the capital on Sunday is a show of strength more than it is anything else. “The thrust of the speeches of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi will be corruption. The Congress party will highlight the initiatives and measures taken by the UPA government to fight corruption,” Congress General Secretary B K Hariprasad said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to launch a strong defence of the economic policy of the government. Mukesh Sharma, parliamentary secretary to the Delhi Chief Minister and a chief organiser of the rally, told The Sunday Standard that the mega event will remind people of the rallies which used to happen during former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s time. “Lakhs of people used to attend Indira Gandhi’s rallies. The number then came down by thousands, but in tomorrow’s rally, lakhs and lakhs of people will be seen again.” Indira’s last rally, the Kisan Rally, was held in 1982 at the Boat Club near India Gate. Hariprasad said around 10 lakh attended that rally. Congress leaders are expecting a similar number on Sunday, while security agencies estimate that between one and three lakh. It will also set the tone for the party’s one-day brainstorming session at Surajkund to be held on November 9.
Delhi had been buzzing with activity for days, with the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters at 1 Akbar Road, the Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s residence and the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) becoming a beehive of activity. Dikshit has assigned the task of collecting two lakh people from Delhi for the rally. In a series of meetings organised by Dikshit and DPCC President JP Agarwal, party MLAs and office-bearers were given targets for collecting people. Delhi has 40 Congress MLAs; Dikshit has given each MLA a target of 20 buses and 2,000 people each. “In all, 2000 buses have been deployed all over the capital to get people for the rally. Each MLA will try to get the maximum people to showcase the party’s hold in his constituency,” said Sharma.
In poll-bound Delhi, the Congress is flexing its muscle at the rally. Office-bearers of the trade unions affiliated to Congress were tasked with the responsibility of rounding up attendees. “Six hundred buses will pick up people from the Nirankari Mission, labour and trade unions, the Delhi Transport Union and Delhi Transco Union members attached to the Congress party. The numbers would be so large that many would have to stand outside, and we have put up loud speakers in a 1.5-2 kilometre area around Ramlila Maidan so that they too can listen to the speeches,” said Sharma. Special seating arrangements have been made for women.
The show is being orchestrated with precision: there are 14 district and 140 blocks in-charge in the capital. Each block in-charge will accompany a minimum of 500 people to Ramlila Maidan. Each block president has been assigned to hold multiple meetings in their area to explain to party workers and people the benefits of FDI in multi-brand retail. On Friday, Dikshit visited Ramlila Maidan to oversee the arrangements being made. She was accompanied by AICC Treasurer Motilal Vora, General Secretaries Hariprasad, Oscar Fernandes, former Union minister Mukul Wasnik, and Delhi ministers Kiran Walia, Ramakant Goswami and Raj Kumar Chauhan. Dikshit again visited the venue on Saturday and later held meetings to discuss preparations for the rally.
In addition to Delhi, district presidents from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana will attend the rally along with thousands of Congress party supporters. Avinash Kakade, in-charge, All India Kisan Khet Mazdoor Congress, said, “Office-bearers of Kisan Khet Mazdoor Congress from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, four five districts of Maharashtra and seven districts in Punjab would be coming with Congressmen for the rally.” Leaders of Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan have been brainstorming to make the rally a success. The entire AICC top brass is engaged in mobilising the turnout, particularly from the states of Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Fernandes is supervising the mobilisation of supporters from Rajasthan. According party estimates, around one lakh supporters may land in Delhi for the rally from Rajasthan itself. The Rajasthan PCC has booked 35 railway bogies, and around 2,000 vehicles have been engaged as part of travel arrangements for Congress workers.
Congress General Secretary Vilas Muttemwar said, “Party workers would get the opportunity to get to know the positive fallouts of the government’s decisions like FDI at the rally.”
When asked about the security arrangements for the rally, Deputy Commissioner of Police Rajan Bhagat, said, “Due to security reasons we are not revealing the number of security personnel deployed for the rally. All I can say is ‘adequate’ security measures have been taken.” The attention to security is detailed. Originally the rally was scheduled for October 28, but was postponed due to Eid. The Special Protection Group (SPG) is supervising the security arrangements for the rally in coordination with Delhi Police. Security agencies have also been informed about the crowd movement from Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
with inputs from Yatish Yadav and U Anand Kumar