Dropping hints that a grand alliance of opposition parties ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections could not be ruled out, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said a “mahagathbandhan” to stop the Modi juggernaut was a sentiment of the people and not just political parties. Gandhi’s statement comes hours before the Congress’ Iftar party, which in the past has often been its extended platform to engage with ‘like-minded political parties’.
“It is the sentiment of the people and not just political parties which are opposed to the BJP, to have a ‘mahagathbandhan’ that can take on the BJP, the RSS and Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Gandhi said in Mumbai, where he has been camping for the past two days, holding meetings with Congress legislators and party corporators.
However, the Congress chief remained mum when asked by reporters who would lead the grand alliance of the opposition parties and turned his focus on attacking PM Modi and BJP. Alleging that the ruling party was attacking the Constitution and curbing freedom of other institutions, leading to questions being asked from different quarters, Gandhi said Congress was trying to get these voices on a common platform.
“Prime Minister Modi and the BJP are attacking the Constitution and institutions of the nation. The question faced by the people is how to stop this. The Congress is trying to join together these voices and the work is going on,” the Gandhi scion said.
Hitting out at the BJP again over demonetisation and GST, Gandhi said the decisions were an “attack” on Mumbai as many small industries and traders flourished here. “There was an attack on Mumbai (through demonetisation). There are small industries, traders here…the leather industry and the cloth industry are all here. They were attacked by the ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’,” Gandhi said.
On the spiralling fuel prices, the Congress chief said despite the opposition asking the PM to bring petrol and diesel under GST, Modi had turned a deaf ear. Gandhi said during the UPA government’s rule, crude price was $130 a barrel and it has now come down to $70 a barrel. “However, the benefit has not been passed on to the common man. Where does this money go? In the pockets of a handful of 15 to 20 rich people,” he alleged.
On Tuesday, Gandhi had accused the Modi government of creating hatred and division in the society and betraying farmers as well as youth in the country. Addressing a convention of Mumbai booth-level Congress workers, he alleged that Modi was a “chowkidar” only for a handful of industrialists and not the common man. He had also accused Modi of “humiliating” BJP veterans Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L K Advani and Jaswant Singh, alleging that it was his “way of protecting Indian culture”.