Ramlila Maidan makes history again

New Delhi, Dec 28: The sprawling Ramlila Maidan, where Arvind Kejriwal Saturday took oath as Delhi’s chief minister, has seen numerous political rallies including those addressed by Mahatma Gandhi.

From the 1930s when the ground came into being at the edge of the Mughal-built Walled City, it has seen historical figures address huge rallies.

During India’s independence struggle, Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel and others used Ramlila Maidan for political meetings.

The ground was the venue for Jayaprakash Narayan when he addressed a 100,000-strong rally in June 1975 just before then prime minister Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency rule.

And shortly before the historic 1977 election that for the first time ended Congress rule in India, another massive rally at the ground brought together a galaxy of opposition leaders who were to unseat Gandhi.

In June 2011, Ramlila Maidan — where one of the biggest of Ramlila celebrations takes place every year — saw yoga guru Ramdev preside over thousands.

That meeting ended on a sad note when a woman was killed in a stampede as police tried to break up Ramdev supporters.

Gandhian activist Anna Hazare made the Ramlila Maidan his home for 12 days in 2011 when he fasted in support of a Jan Lokpal bill. Kejriwal was then on his side — and became a household name in Delhi.

On Saturday, as tens of thousands cheered him, Kejriwal used the Ramlila Maidan to take oath as he became Delhi’s seventh — and youngest — chief minister.

IANS