Around 20 parties project unity at rally with an aim of ousting Modi government

Kolkata: Leaders of around 20 non-BJP parties, joined by BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha, on Saturday came together at a rally organised by Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee here and pitched for unity for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections to oust the Modi government.

With Mamata anchoring the show, leaders from parties like Congress, DMK, TDP, JD(S), NCP, Samajwadi Party, BSP, RJD, AAP, National Conference, RLD and AIUDF attacked the BJP-led NDA Central government and singularly targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

However, parties like TRS, BJD and the Left chose not to attend the rally which was significantly attended by Shatrughan Sinha, actor-turned-Lok Sabha member of BJP, along with former BJP ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie.

The speakers at the rally pitched for changing the Prime Minister and expressed confidence that it would happen if the opposition parties stick together and jointly take on the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls due by May this year.

Shatrughan Sinha, Yashwant Sinha, and Shourie were stinging in their attack on Modi and his government. Shatrughan even went to the extent of saying that he was ready to be called a “rebel” if rebellion meant “speaking the truth” and “showing mirror” to his party.

“What Pakistan could not do in 70 years, the BJP government has done in four and a half years. They have destroyed all government institutions. They are promoting the politics of hatred,” Mamata said at the mega rally.

Talking about the importance of the rally, the TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister said: “Everybody has to come together. The people strong in their region need to extend their support. One city is not important. This country is important. Collective leadership is important.”

TDP leader and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu described Modi as “a publicity PM” and said “We want a performing PM.” Naidu, whose party was a constituent of the NDA till last year, said almost five years ago, people gave the mandate to the BJP “but they betrayed the nation.”

Questioning the performance of the Modi government, he said, “the BJP wants to divide the country but we all are here to unite the nation,” he said. Mamata said the 2019 Lok Sabha elections are “all about ousting the BJP.”

She said the question of a Prime Ministerial candidate was not important right now and that they would collectively decide about it after the elections. “Sometimes they ask who will be their leader. We have many leaders. Everyone among us is a leader, a worker, and an organiser,” the West Bengal Chief Minister said.
Attacking the BJP, she said, “What Pakistan failed to do in 70 years, Amit Shah and Narendra Modi have done in the last around five years. They have pitted Hindus against Muslims and each and every community against each other.”

Yashwant Sinha and Shourie felt that ousting the Modi government was doable and suggested that opposition parties should field joint candidates against the BJP nominees in every Lok Sabha constituency, with a spirit of “sacrifice rather than a sense of calculations.”

“All the opposition parties should have one goal and one vow… This government can be ousted,” Shourie said. He said even Modi has realised that his “grip has been shaken.”

Describing Mamata as “Bengal’s tigress”, he said “the people’s faith in Shah-Modi has got eroded” and now the opposition parties should give confidence of unity. He claimed that the BJP could have been defeated in Gujarat Assembly elections had the opposition been united.

Citing the example of the recent defeat of BJP in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh assembly polls, Shourie said: “It is not impossible to remove the party (BJP) from power.”

Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that Prime Minister Modi and BJP chief Shah were “afraid” of the grand alliance of which they keep making fun. “Today, there is a feeling of fear in the country. There is a feeling of vengeance.Prime Minister Modi and Shah are afraid today. That is why they keeping poking fun at this grand alliance,” he said.

However, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah had a word of caution for the opposition leaders present on the dais. “The opposition leaders must not think about becoming the Prime Minister. As of now, we all should collectively concentrate on fighting the elections together to defeat the BJP.”

Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal said if the BJP comes to power again in 2019, Modi and BJP president Amit Shah will operate in a manner similar to that of Adolf Hitler.

Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy raised the issue of alleged “horse-trading” by the BJP in his state. “BJP is offering huge cash to MLAs of JD-S and Congress in a bid to make them resign. Legislators are being treated as a commodity and democracy is being mocked at,” said Chief Minister Kumaraswamy.

Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel said: Subhash Chandra Bose fought with the Britishers, we have to fight with thieves. All of us are here to save the country and the Constitution.” He also accused Prime Minister Modi-led Central government of destroying the Constitution and democracy.

Among those who also spoke on the occasion included DMK president MK Stalin, NC leader Omar Abdullah, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, BSP leader Satish Misra, RLD chief Ajit Singh and leader Jayant Chowdhary, former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Gegong Apang, former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren and Gujarat’s independent MLA and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani.