Some key opposition leaders on Wednesday called for unity among “secular” parties to defeat the BJP in the next Lok Sabha polls as they likened the current situation to the Emergency, claiming that democracy is as much under threat now as it was then. JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav and CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury also underlined the need for opposition parties to work towards a maximum possible unity if a “complete unity” was not possible.
“Uniting opposition parties to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections will be the biggest tribute to JP (Jayaprakash Narayan),” Yadav said at an event to commemorate Narayan’s 115th birth anniversary. Narayan had united opposition ranks against the Indira Gandhi-led Congress, leading to the rout of her party in the 1977 Lok Sabha polls, held after she lifted the Emergency.
The dangers that existed for the country during the Emergency have again come up and, in fact, the situation is more dire currently, Yechury said, adding that Narayan stood for freedom, democracy and development and all three were under “threat” now.
The time has come for “secular” parties to unite if India has to be “saved”, he said, claiming that all sections of society are angry with the Modi government’s policies.
The main aim of the BJP and its ideological mentor RSS is to turn India into a “Hindu rashtra” and they will resort to dividing the society on communal lines to win in 2019, he said.
If the opposition parties cannot march together, then they must strike together, the CPI(M) leader said, underscoring the need for them to keep the aim of defeating the BJP in their mind in case they all cannot come together.
He noted that his party had disagreed with Narayan in 1977 for giving Jan Sangh “respectability” by inviting it to join the opposition forces.
Yadav defended Narayan’s decision to seek the Jan Sangh’s support, saying the veteran leader believed that people walking towards a common goal should not criticise each other.
“There is no JP now but challenges are bigger now,” he said, seeking unity among opposition parties.
Opposition parties such as the Congress and the Left among others have come together in the past on specific issues against the Modi government but many believe that for them to reach an electoral alliance will not be easy.
Both Yechury and Yadav lashed out at the government over its execution of demonetisation and the GST rollout.
Yadav also agreed with the view of Shanti Bhushan, who was law minister in the Janata Party government formed in 1977, that only a divided opposition was the hope for the BJP to win in the next Lok Sabha polls as different sections of society are upset with it.
This country is ruled by a leader who believes its problems can be solved by good speeches, Bhushan earlier said, in a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Former Supreme Court judge V Gopala Gowda also spoke on the occasion and said demonetisation was in “blatant violation” of the RBI Act.
Rajendra Singh, a well-known water conservationist, spoke against the river inter-linking project. He accused the government of promoting interests of corporates.