Sonia, Rahul, lead 'Save Democracy' march; detained, released

About 2,000 Congress workers, chanting slogans, attempt to break police cordon and barricades.

Updated - November 17, 2021 05:06 am IST

Published - May 06, 2016 01:12 pm IST - New Delhi

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi and the former Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, were arrested for a brief time on Friday morning as they led a “Save Democracy” march. They were taken to the Parliament Street police station and released within 20 minutes.

In the meantime, about 2,000 Congress workers attempted to break police cordon and barricades, chanting slogans: “Down with dictatorship; Agusta Westland is BJP’s game.” The police cane-charged some protesters to control the crowd.

Prior to the police action, Congress leadership trained its guns on the Central government, criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for "pursuing a strategy" to “destroy Congress” and for not doing enough to bring relief to the people who are reeling under severe drought in various parts of the country.

“Every poor person is sad today,” said Congress president Sonia Gandhi, “Farmers are forced to commit suicides and Modi government has done nothing about it. He is just selling false dreams.”

Ms. Gandhi said the purpose of marching down to Parliament is to “send a strong message to people sitting in Raisina Hill and Nagpur.”

“It’s to make them hear that do not try to frighten us. Life has taught us to fight,” said Ms. Gandhi, adding that the BJP’s time is up.

Mr.Rahul Gandhi punched holes at the BJP’s employment policy, saying that when the party came to power in 2014, it promised to employ two crore people per year while “the fact is only 1, 30,000 people were employed last year.”

Mr. Singh gave a rather philosophical dimension to the party’s ongoing struggles with the ruling BJP.

Quoting famous pre-Independence poet, Sir Muhammad Iqbal, Mr.Singh said the Congress is like a river which will always flow in its natural direction.

PTI adds...

Ms. Gandhi alleged that the Congress-led governments in >Uttarakhand and >Arunachal Pradesh were dislodged by the Modi regime with use of money power:

“Do not make the mistake of thinking that the Congress party is weak. We will not allow democratic institutions to be weakened or destroyed,” she said.

She said, "Today, Uttarakhand's jungles are burning but nothing is being done about it because there is no government. The BJP government is murdering democracy by taking down democratically elected governments. No matter how much they try to fight democracy, we will not let you succeed."

She asked Congress wokers to “unmask” the Modi government in a democratic way and said they would not buckle under any form of injustice. "We will take detractors head on. Life has taught me to struggle, we have faced a lot of challenges. They don't know what we are made of," she said.

“Do not try to frighten or defame us. Life has taught me to fight on,” the Congress Chief said, in the backdrop of the bribery allegations in the VVIP chopper deal case.

“Today those who do not agree with them are harassed,” she said, addressing the rally, and warned “ Inke din ab poore hogaye hai” (Their days are over now). People can teach them a lesson if they continue to indulge in it.”

Targeting RSS, Ms. Gandhi said, “We have to send a message so strong that people sitting in Raisina Hill and Nagpur sit up and listen.” Accusing the Modi government of “murdering democracy and destroying democratic institutions”, she said, “I want to say clearly that whatever effort you make to destroy democracy, we will not allow it to happen. We are used to waging struggle and we have faced many challenges in the past.

“Congress is not new to struggle. We have shed blood for the cause of the nation. We are the people who have given blood and laid down our lives to protect the basic principles. We will not withdraw from it.”

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