Hundreds of Congress workers, led by party President Sonia Gandhi, Vice President Rahul Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh arrived at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar for a protest rally on Friday. The party carried out a “save democracy march” to Parliament, protesting against the imposition of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh, two states where the Congress used to be in power before several of their MLAs purportedly rebelled and joined forces with the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Congress also planned to use the rally to raise other contentious issues, such as the ongoing drought and agrarian crisis in the country.
At the rally Sonia Gandhi accused the BJP of attempting to crush democracy. Senior Congress leaders AK Antony, who was defence minister when the controversial AgustaWestland helicopter deal was struck, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Manmohan Singh were detained by Delhi police for a few minutes, along with Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. They were released immediately, ANI reported.
The BJP, meanwhile, is holding a protest of its own at the Gandhi statue in Parliament, protesting against the Congress’ involvement in the VVIP chopper scam, which has blown up into a huge issue over the past few weeks. The BJP claims top Congress leaders were involved in a corrupt deal with Italian helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland to provide 12 VVIP choppers in 2010. The BJP says Congress leaders took bribes from the company to ensure they were awarded the contract. However, Congress leaders said the BJP was raising the chopper issue to divert attention from its own failures.