West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Saturday gave a clarion call to oust the BJP-led government at the Centre and asserted that a united opposition will win the forthcoming general elections.
Addressing the ‘United India rally’ at Brigade Parade Grounds, the TMC supremo claimed that the BJP’s days are numbered and that the “expiry date” of the Modi-led government is over. She also vowed to work together along with other opposition parties.
Launching a broadside against the Modi government, Banerjee accused the BJP of taking the credit for works done by the state government. She further claimed that various state governments are not being allowed to work under the BJP. She also criticised the government’s handling in the CBI crisis.
“How they (Central government) have destroyed the CBI and ED, for which we had so much respect. If you vote for the BJP now, you won’t even get your money back from the banks,” Banerjee claimed.
In a rebuke to BJP’s constant questions on the PM candidate from the Opposition side, Banerjee said that the coalition does not lack a leader, instead, it has several leaders- calling, ‘everyone an organiser in the alliance’. Who will be the prime minister will be decided after the polls, she said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing a public gathering in Dadra and Nagar Haveli’s Silvassa, lashed out at the Opposition and said the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) has been formed by people who got infuriated by his actions against corruption. “My stand on corruption has made some people angry as I prevented them from looting public money; they have formed the mahagathbandhan,” PM Modi said.
Banerjee also commented on the recent issue of BJP holding rath yatras in the state and said that she won’t allow communal violence in the name of Rath Yatra. She said, “We will not allow BJP to run amok in Bengal. No acche din under the Modi government as people have made up their mind to oust the party.” She ensured that BJP will be wiped out from state to state, asserting that the country does not believe in ‘divide and rule’ politics.
Banerjee had invited a host of opposition leaders to come together including former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha, Shatrughan Sinha and Arun Shourie; three present chief ministers Arvind Kejriwal, Chandrababu Naidu and H D Kumaraswamy; and former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Akhilesh Yadav and Gegong Apang.
Former prime minister H D Deve Gowda said that very little time lies ahead of the united front and a roadmap had to be immediately discussed. Terming the coalition as a ‘herculean task’, he said the problem is for different party leaders to forget the differences and come together. Slamming PM Modi for destroying the secular system of the nation, the former prime minister said that Modi government is using all machinery to create an atmosphere of fear in the country, instead of building a strong nation.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, on the other hand, said that the country currently is under immense strain with political institutions being undermined. He called for collective effort to defeat the forces that are trying to sabotage the Indian constitution.
Andhra Pradesh CM and TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu, who had been striving for the coalition, was also present at the rally today. Extending his gratitude to the TMC leader, he said that the meeting had been organised to change the future of the country.
“We have only one ambition- save India, save democracy,” he said. Taking a jibe at the BJP government, he said that the party had betrayed the nation by trying to divide it, however, the coalition was being formed to unite the country.
Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal castigated the Modi-Shah combine and said that they had finished the country. He spoke on a host of issues which included youth unemployment caused by job deficit and farmers committing suicide, with no insurance provided to them. He also commented on PM Modi’s social media activity which involves following people who abuse women on social media.
DMK chief M K Stalin, who was greeted by Mamata Banerjee with a ‘Vannakam’, made a strong point by stating the rally as the ‘second freedom struggle’. He said that the upcoming elections would serve as a platform to get rid of the Modi-BJP government. Referring to the Rafale deal, and absconding businessmen Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi, Stalin said that the BJP government is ‘not for commoners, but for corporates’. Appreciating Mamata Banerjee, Stalin described her as an ‘Iron Lady’, and said that the Modi-Shah duo feared entering Kolkata because of her leadership.
Karnataka Chief Minister and JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy said that a constitutional government was missing at the Centre which binds regional parties together when the latter actually has the strong instinct to connect with people and protect the interest of the states.
National Conference Chairman Farooq Abdullah, speaking of regional ties, said that people were still divided over it. Commenting over the Citizenship Amendment Bill, he said that fire was being spread about the bill in the Northeast. He also spoke on people sacrificing to unite the country and said, “I am a Muslim, but a party of Hindustan and every Kashmiri wants to stay with India.”
Leaders such as Congress’ Abhishek Singhvi, NCP Chief Sharad Pawar, former BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav were among others who addressed the meeting.