Irate Congress workers
rough up own leaders
Vikram/ Deepak Kr Jha/ New Delhi: Congress workers would
accept nobody but Sonia Gandhi as the Prime Minister. They kept
the pressure on all through the day and gave vent to their feelings
as they roughed up those who even dared to say M of Manmohan.
Those on the receiving end included among others party leader
Mani Shanker Aiyar. Worse, Mr Aiyar was labelled a "BJP-stooge"
when he told a television channel that Manmohan Singh was likely
to be the next Prime Minister.
about 2.15 pm, as the dust haze that has enveloped the Capital
hung low over Akbar Road, Mr Aiyar came out of the AICC headquarters.
He was requested to climb onto the van of a foreign television
channel. As he began talking about Dr Singh, came a youth dashing
at him, saying: "Manmohan Singh Pradhan Mantri nahi ban sakta.
Soniaji ko tayyar karo." Before the diplomat-turned-politician
could explain, another pulled at his kurta, tearing a portion
away. He was then abused and accused of being a "BJP dalal"
before a few National Students' Union of India (NSUI) volunteers
gave him cover, sparing him the wrath of the angry Congress workers.
A few policemen arrived subsequently to his rescue. Nevertheless,
Mr Aiyar completed his interview, the torn kurta notwithstanding.
Congress MP, Ashwini Kumar, had met a similar fate an hour earlier.
Sonia-supporters hurled missiles at Mr Kumar as he came out of
the CNN van after briefing the channel on the latest developments.
He was rescued from their clutches by New Delhi Deputy Commissioner
of Police Anita Roy, who has been having a difficult time keeping
the law and order situation under control in the high-security
between, source of sustenance for the supporters were a man in
a drunken state who climbed atop an NDMC water tanker and started
shouting slogans. His spicy slogans were: Kursi ke bhukhe bhediya
ab videhsi mool kahne lage, baal kataye, dhong rachaye, dekho
yeh kya khel hai, nahi chayie sona chandi, hame chaiye Sonia Gandhi.
He laced his slogan-shouting with a threat to commit suicide along
with his wife and six children, if Ms Gandhi did does not become
the Prime Minister.
late in the evening the doors of 10 Janpath were opened to Sonia-supporters
after the Congress president returned from the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
"Aap logo ke pyar or vishwas ki main abhari hoon. Maine desh
ke hit mein ek acha nirnay liya hai aur aap uska samman kare,"
Ms Gandhi told her supporters as she asked them to return home.
day's demonstrations were led by the Bihar Congress troupe with
state party president Ram Jatan Sinha announcing a fast unto death,
demanding that the Congress president must reconsider her decision.
Mr Sinha appeared to have inspired Delhi Youth Congress president
Rajesh Lilothia to join the fast.
Congress supporters vented their ire at anybody or anything which
did not endorse their view. The agitated workers smashed the main
gate of the media hall at the AICC headquarters where party general
secretary Ambika Soni was briefing the Press on political developments.
party workers first tried to enter the media room where Ms Soni
and S Jaipal Reddy were addressing a crowded Press conference.
Failing to do so, they pelted stones and smashed the window panes,
disrupting the meeting and injuring a journalist. Ms Soni and
Mr Reddy stopped the briefing midway and left the hall through
a side door.
it is Sonia or nobody," was the common refrain of the Congress
workers. Ms Soni, who is seen as a close confidante of the Congress
president, addressed party's women workers outside 10, Janpath,
the residence of the Congress president. She requested them to
calm down and allow Ms Gandhi to reach a decision, which in her
perception was best for the party and the people of the country.
large number of supporters from Ms Gandhi's constituency Rae Bareli
and Rahul Gandhi's constituency Amethi had gathered there and
had continued their hunger strike. They raised slogans hailing
Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and
Priyanka Vadra. "Rai Bareli, Amethi ka toofan, badle sara
Hindustan" were the popular slogans.
the evening, the Bihar and Delhi supporters were outnumbered by
the Haryana brigade. This forced a fresh review of the security
cordon by Joint Commissioner of Police Maxwell Pereira. Soon,
Central para-military personnel were deployed to beef-up security
around the residence and the office of the Congress president.
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