The INDIA bloc on Sunday urged the Election Commission to ensure a level-playing field for all parties in the Lok Sabha elections and demanded the release of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren.

The Opposition Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, or the INDIA bloc, is a coalition of Opposition parties that is taking on the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance in the elections.

On Sunday, the INDIA bloc held a mega rally in Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan in a show of strength. The rally was attended by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, senior party leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Nationalist Congress Party (Sharadchandra Pawar) supremo Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) chief Uddhav Thackeray, among others.

Speaking at the rally, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said that the Election Commission should stop the strong-arm tactics of the Enforcement Directorate, the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Income Tax Department against the Opposition parties.

“Hemant Soren and Arvind Kejriwal should be released from custody immediately,” she said.

Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on March 21 in connection with the Delhi liquor policy case. Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader Hemant Soren was arrested on January 31 by the central agency in a money laundering case, shortly after he resigned as the state’s chief minister.

The Congress general secretary said that attempts to financially strangulate Opposition parties before the Lok Sabha elections should be stopped. On March 21, the Congress had said that the Income Tax Department had frozen all its bank accounts ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Listing down the INDIA bloc’s demands, Vadra said that a Special Investigation Team should be formed under the supervision of the Supreme Court to look into “money laundering and extortion by the Bharatiya Janata Party in the form of electoral bonds”.

Electoral bonds were monetary instruments that citizens or corporate groups could buy from the State Bank of India and give to a political party, which could then redeem them. The Supreme Court had on February 15 struck down the scheme as unconstitutional, stating that the electoral bonds could lead to quid pro quo arrangements between donors and political parties.

The court had directed the State Bank of India to issue details of the political parties that received electoral bonds from April 12, 2019, and submit them to the Election Commission. Subsequently, the poll panel made the data public. It showed that the BJP has received the lion’s share of political funding through the scheme.

At the rally, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge called the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the BJP “poison” that had “destroyed” the country.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindutva organisation, is the parent organisation of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

“We need to unite and only then will we be able to fight the BJP. We won’t succeed if we keep attacking and fighting each other,” Kharge said. “This election is for saving democracy and the Constitution and we must fight unitedly.”

Punjab Chief Minister and senior Aam Aadmi Party leader Bhagwant Mann said that Kejriwal was not a man but an ideology.

“You can arrest Arvind Kejriwal, but how will you arrest his ideology?” Mann asked. “In which jail will you send the lakhs of Kejriwals that are born in India?”