BJP takes out protest march demanding Kejriwal's resignation, Delhi unit chief among 57 detained

New Delhi, Mar 26 (PTI) Delhi BJP leaders and workers braved water cannons and several of them were detained by police as they tried to march towards the secretariat building near ITO demanding that arrested Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal step down from his post.

In another part of the city, police detained several AAP leaders and workers near Patel Chowk Metro station when they were trying to take out a protest march to gherao the prime minister's residence against the arrest of Kejriwal by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on March 21 in connection with an excise policy-linked money laundering case.

Kejriwal has been remanded in the ED custody till March 28.

At least 57 BJP members, including the party's Delhi unit chief Virendra Sachdeva, were detained as they pressed ahead to reach the Delhi Secretariat building from the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium where they had gathered in large numbers, police said.

Leading the protesters, Sachdeva charged that the AAP government in Delhi was running "illegally" , saying Kejriwal should resign from the post of chief minister if he has any morality.

"Even his former deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and former minister Satyendar Jain may be pondering if Kejriwal can run government from jail then why he took their resignations after arrest," he said taking a dig at the Delhi chief minister.

Sisodia is behind bars for over a year in connection with the excise policy-linked money laundering case, while Jain is in jail for a longer period in a separate money laundering case.

He cited the examples of former chief ministers Hemant Soren, J Jayalalithaa and Madan Lal Khurana, saying they stepped down when their names figured in corruption cases.

"The way Kejriwal is insisting on continuing as chief minister from custody, he is not only violating ethical political examples but showing that he considers government and party as his personal fief," Sachdeva charged.

Slamming Kejriwal for issuing directions to his ministers while being in ED custody, BJP national secretary Manjinder Singh Sirsa said a chief minister cannot issue directions while being in custody and alleged that the AAP was creating a drama.

He said he has lodged a complaint in the matter with Delhi Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena for strict action.

Delhi Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj claimed that Kejriwal has issued directions to him to ensure that medicines and tests are available to people at all government hospitals and Mohalla Clinics. Earlier, Water Minister Atishi made similar claim saying Kejriwal instructed her to address the issues of water and sewer in the city.

Participating in the BJP protest, party candidate from the North East Lok Sabha seat Manoj Tiwari said "A government cannot be run from jail. You can run a gang from jail but not a government. A government can run only as per the Constitution." A number of BJP leaders, including outgoing MPs Harsh Vardhan and Ramesh Bidhuri, Lok Sabha candidates Ramvir Singh Bidhuri, Bansuri Swaraj, Harsh Malhotra and Yogendra Chandolia, senior party leaders Pawan Sharma and Ashish Sood, MLAs Vijender Gupta, Ajay Mahawar, Jitendra Mahajan, Mohan Singh Bisht, Abhay Verma and former Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta, participated in the protest.

Sirsa said that a demand for probe into the excise policy in the AAP-ruled Punjab is also rising.

Senior BJP leader and outgoing Chandni Chowk MP Harsh Vardhan said Kejriwal has been arrested, and therefore, he should resign on moral grounds and give his responsibility to someone else.

The large number of protesters carrying placards, BJP flags and raising slogans like "Kejriwal Sharm Karo" and "Kejriwal Istifa Do" gathered at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium. They were stopped at multiple layers of barricades of police near the ITO Metro station. The police tried to disperse the protesters using water cannons.

Many protesters were finally detained as they tried to cross the barricades despite discharge of water cannons and taken to the Kamla Market police station.

Police said some workers climbed over barricades while marching towards the secretariat.

"To disperse the protesters, water cannons were used. Some of them were detained from near Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg when they tried to break through a layer of barricades," a police officer said.

He said that about 57 BJP workers and leaders, including Sachdeva, were detained. PTI VIT ALK SMN SMN

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