The Kisan Mukti March brought a galaxy of Opposition leaders including Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Aam Aadmi Party convenor Arvind Kejriwal together at Parliament Street on Friday. However, some parties stayed away from the rally, with the Bahujan Samaj Party conspicuous by its absence.
The abiding political image from the rally was that of Mr. Kejriwal and Mr. Gandhi standing together. Not only did the political rivals share the stage, they also spoke to each other. According to senior leaders present on the stage, CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury pointed to the Delhi Chief Minister and told Mr. Gandhi that Mr. Kejriwal’s complaint was that the Congress leader did not talk to him. To which Mr. Gandhi responded by saying that he was there to talk.
The Congress has been under pressure from its Delhi unit to exclude AAP from opposition deliberations inside and outside Parliament. More recently, Delhi’s ruling party didn’t vote for the opposition candidate during elections to the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman after Mr. Gandhi failed to call Mr. Kejriwal to seek his support.
Explaining the BSP’s absence, sources said the party had made it clear that it did not want to be seen in any Opposition gathering till the conclusion of the on-going Assembly polls in five States.
“They are fighting the Congress in Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Rajasthan,” said a senior Opposition leader, who did not wish to be identified. “They have already informed us that they do not want to be seen sharing a stage with the Congress before the results are announced on December 11.”
While the rally saw a sizeable number of protesters from Tamil Nadu, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam did not attend the march.
DMK MP Kanimozhi told The Hindu that the party’s absence was the result of a ‘miscommunication’ and that there had been no deliberate decision to stay away from the rally.