New Delhi: Thousands
of people filled the spacious Ramlila ground here to witness the
conclusion of the 40-day Jan Chetna Yatra of Bharatiya Janata
Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani, but many left before he concluded
When Advani arrived at the venue in central Delhi at 12.40 p.m.,
the vast ground was almost full to capacity with party workers and
But many people started leaving during the speech, which began at
2.10 p.m. Party activists said this was because of the delayed
start of the rally, originally scheduled for 11 a.m.
"It was like a film. As the last scene began, audience began to
disperse," said Sanjiv Sharma, a BJP worker from Laxmi Nagar in
east Delhi, who stayed in the ground till the rally's end.
A policeman, who has been on duty during many earlier rallies,
said Sunday's rally was one of the biggest in the recent years.
According to him, the attendance was "much bigger than during the
fast by Hazare in August, but the enthusiasm was little less than
"The Ramlila Maidan has witnessed several historic rallies. But I
have never seen such a rally," said 84-year-old Advani.
Delhi BJP chief Vijender Gupta was complimented by Advani and
Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj for organising the
The audience included a large number of women and Muslims.
Groups of Muslims, the men wearing skull caps and women dressed in
traditional abayas, occupied key spots at the rally venue.
"The days of Sikander saheb are returning. We will show it in the
coming polls," Naseem Ahmed, a party activist from Old Delhi told
IANS, reminding the active support of Muslims to the erstwhile
Janata Party and the BJP.
The community's support propelled Sikander Bakht, a Muslim from
Old Delhi, to central ministership in the Janata Party government
in 1977 and the National Demorcatic Alliance government in the
According to Sahasranshu Mahapatra, a researcher in political
trends, it was an achievement for the party to gather a massive
crowd in the days of television, internet and other entertainment.
Several Delhiites were proceeding to the trade fair at Pragati
Maidan on the day, he said.
"It is a reasonable revival of the good old political rally. It
did not look like a hired crowd too. Otherwise, even ardent party
supporters prefer to see the rallies on TV," Mahapatra told IANS.
The security was tight, with police frisking all rallyists. The
party had also deployed hundreds of volunteers to assist in the