India Opposition Rally

India Opposition Rally
India Opposition Rally

Top leaders of India's opposition coalition and thousands of supporters rallied in the capital, decrying "autocracy" in protest at the arrest of a senior colleague ahead of general elections.

Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of Delhi and a key leader in an opposition alliance formed to compete against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was detained this month in connection with a long-running corruption probe.

Kejriwal's government is accused of receiving kickbacks while handing out liquor licenses to private companies. Kejriwal, 55, denies the charges.

"The country is headed towards autocracy," Shiv Sena party leader Uddhav Thackeray, a former chief minister of Maharashtra state, told cheering crowds. "This one-man government is taking the country to ruin."

Nearly a billion Indians will vote to elect a new government in six-week-long parliamentary elections starting on April 19, the largest democratic exercise in the world.

Many analysts see Modi's re-election under his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) banner as a foregone conclusion, partly due to the resonance of his assertive Hindu-nationalist politics with members of India's majority faith.

Several leaders of the two dozen political parties of the INDIA opposition alliance -- the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance -- addressed the crowd.

India's main financial investigation agency, the Enforcement Directorate, which arrested Kejriwal, has launched probes into at least four other state chief ministers or their family members.

While Modi enjoys high levels of support, critics accuse him of using law enforcement agencies to intimidate opposition leaders.

All the investigations involve political opponents of Modi's ruling BJP.

Many in the flag-waving crowd were supporters of Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), or Common Man Party, who donned yellow tops with the image of their leader in jail.