Hemant Soren was arrested for refusing to leave INDIA bloc, says Congress chief at Opposition rally

Show of strength and unity at Opposition’s ‘revolution’ rally; jailed CMs’ wives address rally, though Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was unwell; INDIA leaders vow to protect Constitution, eject NDA from power

Updated - April 22, 2024 06:50 am IST

Published - April 21, 2024 11:27 pm IST - PATNA

INDIA bloc leaders during the alliance’s ‘Ulgulan Nyay’ rally in Ranchi on April 21, 2024.

INDIA bloc leaders during the alliance’s ‘Ulgulan Nyay’ rally in Ranchi on April 21, 2024. | Photo Credit: PTI

Former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren was arrested for refusing to leave the INDIA bloc, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge alleged at a joint Opposition rally in Ranchi on Sunday, warning Prime Minister Narendra Modi that if he tried to “terrorise” tribals, he himself would be destroyed.

In a show of Opposition unity and strength, the leaders of the 28 parties who constitute the INDIA bloc shared the stage at the Ulgulan Nyay Maharally in Ranchi, taking it in turns to lash out at Mr. Modi and the ruling BJP for allegedly putting two CMs in jail — Mr. Soren and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. The wives of both men were present with messages from their jailed spouses, even as INDIA leaders vowed to protect the Constitution and democracy by uprooting the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in the ongoing Lok Sabha election.

Ulgulan, meaning revolution

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi skipped the rally due to ill health, but senior leaders present included Mr. Kharge; Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief Shibu Soren and Jharkhand CM Champai Soren, Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh and Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann, Trinamool Congress leader Vivek Gupta, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, and Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya.

The INDIA bloc has borrowed the word ‘ulgulan’, meaning ‘revolution’, from the local dialect; the word was coined by Adivasi icon Birsa Munda to describe his fight against the British for water, forest, and land, and the Opposition coalition is taking a cue from that historic revolution to describe its own electoral battle against the BJP.

‘Pressure on Hemant’

Mr. Kharge, who reached the rally late, held the Prime Minister responsible for the arrests of the two CMs. “Modi ji arrested two Chief Ministers. There was no fault of Hemant Soren but there was pressure on him that if he remains in the INDIA alliance, he will have to go to jail. The BJP had warned of sending him to jail but Hemant Soren did not agree. Hemant is a very bold leader. If Modi tries to scare the tribals, he himself will be destroyed,” Mr. Kharge said.

“If the Constitution is abolished today, nothing will be left,” the Congress chief warned. “These people get votes by lying and later destroy the public,“ he added, calling Mr. Modi the “leader of liars”.

‘Conspiracy’

Alleging that the BJP has made Central agencies into its agents, Mr. Champai Soren claimed that a conspiracy is being hatched to erase the existence of the tribals and indigenous people in Jharkhand.

Ms. Kalpana Soren read out her jailed husband’s letter to the crowd, in which Mr. Hemant Soren said it was the first time after Independence that so many Opposition leaders were being put in jail. Despite being in jail, he said that he was happy to be fighting to protect democracy and rights.

Ms. Kejriwal accused the BJP-led Union government of hatching a conspiracy to kill her jailed husband, alleging that the Centre was running a dictatorship.

‘False accusations’

Both leaders were put behind bars using false accusations, according to the AAP’s Mr. Singh. Mocking the PM, he said that when Mr. Modi spoke about corruption, it was as if Osama Bin Laden and Gabbar Singh were preaching non-violence.

Alleging that the PM could not digest the good work being done in Delhi and Jharkhand, Mr. Tejashwi Yadav vowed that the BJP would be uprooted.

The TMC’s Mr. Gupta accused the Union government of seeking to restrict people’s freedom, including their freedom to eat and drink.

The BJP may have arrested the lion but they cannot arrest the roar of the lion, declared Mr. Akhilesh Yadav.

Even as the mega show was going on, two Congress groups from Chatra clashed with each other over the candidature of K.N. Tripathi from the Chatra seat, claiming that he is an outsider. Several party workers were injured, including one with a major head injury.

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