New Delhi, Jan 21: It was 11.30 p.m. Monday, when Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal went to sleep as usual. But last night he chose to do not in his bedroom at home but on the roads, under an open sky in bone-chilling temperatures.
Kejriwal and his cabinet colleagues, who are demanding control over the Delhi Police and action against five police personnel, were stopped from reaching the union home ministry where they wanted to stage their protest. Undeterred, they began their sit-in on a road between the Vijay Chowk and Rail Bhawan located in the heart of Delhi’s government district between India Gate and Parliament House.
The protest continued through the night.
Kejriwal, a diabetic, had to undergo several medical checks up’s at night by his physician.
As the afternoon turned to dusk, the 45-year-old activist-turned-politician who led his Aam Aadmi Party to a surprising victory in the assembly elections, shared his food with other AAP leaders and the cabinet ministers.
“Kejriwal ji had fried rice, khichdi and pulses, which he also shared with the other leaders of AAP,” an AAP volunteer told IANS, as Kejriwals slept, oblivious to the inclement weather.
Despite repeatedly turning down security cover, when he dozed off right next to his weather-beaten car, a three tier police cover provided by Delhi Police, Central Reserve Security Force and Sashtra Suraksha Bal stood guard.
Kejrwal, used seven blankets to cover himself, to fight against the biting Delhi cold, his party workers also arranged more than 1,500 blankets for all protesters.
Throughout the night a medical van was present.
As Kejriwal slept on the road, Delhi Environment minister Saurabh Bhardwaj was spotted taking a nap in his official vehicle parked near Arvind Kejriwal’s car.
It was around 1.15 a.m., when Kejriwal woke up and whispered to one of the volunteer to remove the quilts.
Yogendra Yadav, a senior AAP member, told IANS that staying out in the open in this winter season, they are able to know how the homeless live.
Hundreds of AAP volunteers raised slogans through the night.
Most of the media persons and the commandos also remained busy throughout night as the entire area of 20 meters was cordoned off and people were not allowed to enter.
Kejriwal had a sound sleep, his aides said.
It was around 5.20 a.m., when Kejriwal woke up and spoke to the mediaperson’s about AAP’s resolute intentions.
“I am not going to back off, so what if I am the CM of Delhi, our government’s motto is to fight for the people of the state and we will fulfill our promises,” declared Kejriwal.
He said that his intentions were never to protest and waste time, but he accused the central government of making him, a chief minister, to protest in this manner.
When asked that if the protest continuity will create obstacle for the Republic Day celebration he wondered about what was the point of celebrating Republic Day, if the people in the country were not happy with governance.
“Republic Day is meaningless till government do not take care of the people in the country,” he said.
It was around 6 a.m., when Kejriwal went to the Press Club of India to use the wash room.
As dawn broke on a cold and wet day, Kejriwal and his AAP volunteers prepared for another day of protests.
(Rupesh Dutta can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)