Empty chairs, forced attendance allegations cast shadow on I.N.D.I.A. bloc’s Delhi rally
   Date :01-Apr-2024

Empty chairs, forced attendance  
AMIDST the fervour of the I.N.D.I.A. bloc’s much-anticipated ‘Loktantra Bachao’ (Save Democracy) rally at Ramlila Maidan in the national capital, a conspicuous sight of empty chairs caught the attention of attendees and onlookers.
The rally, aimed at asserting the commitment to safeguarding democratic principles ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, found itself embroiled in controversy as allegations surfaced regarding the authenticity of the crowd. Although I.N.D.I.A. bloc leaders claimed a turnout exceeding 20,000, the reality appeared somewhat different. Delhi Police had granted permission for a gathering of 20,000 people at the rally.
Furthermore, voices from within the crowd raised concerns about the circumstances surrounding their presence at the event. Several attendees disclosed to IANS that they had been brought to the rally under various pretences, with some unaware of its political nature altogether. Anand (19), one such attendee, confessed: “I have come here with an event company. We were asked to attend the rally, spend time there, and then return to our houses after refreshments.” Another attendee, Adi, a resident of Sonia Vihar, said, “I came here upon someone’s request. I was not aware of the rally.” The suspicion of “coerced” attendance was further substantiated by Raj Verma, another attendee from Sonia Vihar, who said, “I am here to attend the event. Maybe we might get some money. We had to just be visible in the rally.”