Leaders from over a dozen opposition parties congregated in Kolkata on Saturday to put up a united fight in the coming Lok Sabha elections and vowed to oust Prime Minister Narendra Modi from power. Over 20 leaders, including two from the Congress, attended the show of unity organised by Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee. The leaders called for putting the differences between the parties aside, and insisted on naming the prime ministerial face after the elections. Some suggested that the opposition should aim at putting up a joint candidate against the BJP nominee in every constituency.
While Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi skipped the Kolkata rally, Mallikarjun Kharge and Abhishek Manu Singhvi represented the party in the rally. Kharge read out a message from Sonia Gandhi wishing success to the rally. H D Deve Gowda (Janata Dal-Secular), Sharad Pawar (Nationalist Congress Party) Akhilesh Yadav (Samajwadi Party), Farooq Abdullah (National Conference) and M K Stalin (DMK) were among the top leaders at the rally. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Karnataka counterpart and H D Kumaraswamy too attended. Socialist leader Sharad Yadav, former Union ministers Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha, and BJP rebel Shatrughan Sinha also shared the dais.
READ | Sonia gives anti-BJP rally a miss, but calls it 'important attempt against arrogant Modi-rule'
MAMATA'S MEGA KOLKATA RALLY: TOP DEVELOPMENTS
1. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee issued a war cry 'Delhi mein sarkar badal do' (change the government at the Centre), while asserting that the "expiry date" of the Modi government is over and a united opposition will win the coming general elections. She also promised to work together along with other opposition parties. On prime minister, Mamata said it will be decided after the polls. Claiming that BJP's days at the Centre are numbered, she told the mammoth gathering that the "expiry date of the Modi government is over". Mamata also alleged that the BJP has ignored bigwigs Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Nitin Gadkari and that they would be further ignored if the saffron party wins elections.
2. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also called upon people to defeat the "dangerous" Modi government at the Centre at any cost. Stating that the country was at the crossroads of a serious crisis, he said there is need for immediate change of the Modi government to save the country and democracy. If the Modi-Shah combine continues to rule the country by winning 2019 elections, it will change the constitution and further elections will never take place, he said. He accused trh BJP of creating enmity among people in the name of religion.
3. Disgruntled BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha also shared the stage with opposition leaders, and called for changing the government in the 2019 Lok Sabha election and said he was not afraid of being removed from the ruling party. He insisted he would continue to "show mirror" to the party and call "a spade and spade". BJP, on the other hand, said the party will take "cognisance" of Sinha's presence at the united opposition rally and termed the actor-turned-politician an "opportunist."
4. Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy Saturday said that in 70 years, the country has seen emergence of strong regional parties which have played roles to protect the interest of their own states and understanding the emotions of their own people. Stating that India is one of the strongest democracies in the world, the Karnataka chief minister said "But today we are witnessing a day where the democratic government (at the Centre) is headed by some undemocratic persons." Karunanidhi had done a lot to protect the interest of Tamilnadu, in Uttar Pradesh SP and BSP are doing a "great job", N Chandrababu Naidu has done a lot for Andhra Pradesh, he said. He also said that demonetisation has taken the toll of poor people of the country and those in the rural areas are the most affected.
5. DMK president M K Stalin said the upcoming general elections will be akin to the second freedom struggle for people of India to fight against the "radical Hinduism" of the BJP. Stalin said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is "afraid" of a few people, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. "The next (Lok Sabha) elections will be the second fight for Independence. We will stop this poison of Hindutva and radical Hinduism from spreading. Our call is to defeat Modi and save the country," he said. Criticising the central government, Stalin also accused it of working for corporate houses."If Modi is back in power, the country will go back 50 years," he said.
6. RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav alleged that BJP as part of conspiracy has set CBI and ED against his father Lalu Prasad and his family for not joining hands with them in their efforts to divide the country on communal lines. Yadav came down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and called him "manufacturer, wholesaler and distributor of lies." He lauded Banerjee for bringing leaders of various parties on one platform and urged all the leaders to keep standing together to oust the BJP government from power. Yadav said Banerjee always stood with his father (Lalu Prasad) in times of "dukh-sukh" (sorrow and happiness) and appealed to people of Bihar residing in West Bengal to provide her strength in her political fight keeping this in mind.
7. National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah called the EVM the "chor machine" and demanded that the ballot paper system be brought back for the sake of transparency. He said, "It is not the question of ousting any single person (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) but of saving the country and honouring the sacrifices of those who fought for its freedom." "The EVM is chor machine. Honestly speaking, it is so. Its use must be put to an end. Nowhere in the world is the machine used. The opposition parties should approach the Election Commission and the President of India to stop the use of the EVM and bring back the old ballot papers for the sake of transparency," he said.He blamed the BJP for the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and said people are being divided on religious lines. "People are being branded as Pakistanis. But all people — right from Ladakh to elsewhere — want to continue in India.
8. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Saturday said the BJP has betrayed the people of the country by reneging on all the promises it had made before the 2014 general elections. Naidu said the BJP has failed on its promises of a corruption-free government, to bring back black money from foreign shores and double farmers' income, among several other assurances. "The Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) is a publicity PM and not a performance PM," he said. Naidu claimed that Modi has cheated the farmers of the country, who are ending their lives under financial stress."He promised doubling farmers' income, instead they are committing suicide now," the Andhra CM said. Alleging corrupt dealings in buying Rafale fighter jets from French firm Dassault, he said 36 aircraft were being bought at the price of 126 jets. Naidu said demonetisation caused immense hardship to people and called the GST a "fraud".
9. Senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi hailed TMC's mega opposition rally, and said the aim of the rainbow alliance was to defeat the BJP and form a secular government. "Never before have we seen such vendetta politics...When Amit Shah did 100 rallies in Uttar Pradesh, no one questioned, but when RJD organised a rally, it got an Income Tax notice," he said. Congress is an ally of the Lalu Prasad's RJD in the 'Mahagathbandhan' (Grand Alliance) in Bihar. Accusing the government of indulging in "cheap politics", the Congress leader said the biggest beneficiary of vote division is the BJP. "(Prime Minister) Narendra Modi makes fun of the opposition alliance, but his party made the most unethical alliance in Kashmir. What would he say about it?" Singhvi said.
10. Lauding Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee for her clarion call to defeat BJP in the coming Lok Sabha elections, Patidar leader Hardik Patel called upon people to fulfil her desire in its true spirit to save the country and democracy. Patel said that all non-BJP parties have united here to defeat the BJP government. "We must save our country and democracy for the welfare of the nation," he said. Stating that the opposition parties are fighting against "thieves", Patel said while Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had given a call to fight against the 'goro' (Britishers), "we are fighting against choro (thieves)."
FULL VIDEO: Mamata, opposition parties vow to oust Modi