New Delhi: Opposition leaders gathered on Wednesday for the third time in less than a month in a show of unity and mounted a blistering attack against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, saying the two should be "ousted" in the coming elections as they are a "threat" to democracy and constitutional values.
In fiery speeches at a mega rally, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asserted the situation in the country is "more dangerous" than Emergency while her Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal said people should not repeat the mistake of making a "Class 12 pass out" as prime minister and they should back an "educated" leader.
Besides Banerjee and Kejriwal, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, Sharad Yadav of the Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD), NCP's Sharad Pawar, DMK's Kanimozhi, ex-Arunachal chief minister Gegong Apang, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI leader D Raja and Samajwadi Party(SP) leader Ram Gopal Yadav spoke at the rally at Jantar Mantar.
Banerjee gave a clarion call to opposition parties to fight unitedly at the national level to oust the BJP-led NDA from power.
"Any fight with the Congress will remain in the state (West Bengal). At the national level, we will fight together, this I am saying from the heart... For the greater interest of the country, I am ready to sacrifice my life, my party. I am ready to sacrifice everything," she said, adding democracy in the country has become 'Namocracy'.
Firing political salvos and using trenchant wit, the TMC supremo appealed to all the opposition parties to play to their strengths and not cut into each others' votes. She also asked them to ensure they get all the seats in the states they are strong in.
"I went to a Gandhi statue and thought that Modi has to be removed", she said,
"People who have blood on their hands are ruling the country".
"It is the prime minister's last day as elected leader in Parliament today," she said after the Lok Sabha adjourned sine die.
"Everyone is afraid of Gabbar Singh. There are two of them — (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi and (BJP chief Amit) Shah," she claimed.
She said the PM's speech in Parliament was "his last" in the House as a people's representative and that his government has reached its "expiry date".
Banerjee also raised slogans — 'Modi Hatao, Loktantra Bachao. Modi Hatao, Desh Bachao'.
The mega rally — 'Tanashahi Hatao, Loktantra Bachao Satygraha' — was convened by Aam Aadmi Party, with Kejirwal, its supremo alleging Modi was trying to "tear apart the Constitution" and "destroy democracy".
"Last time you made a Class 12 pass prime minister of the country. Do not commit the mistake this time and find someone who is educated....," Kejriwal said, referring to questions raised on Modi's educational qualifications.
Describing the BJP as a "threat to democracy" which must be defeated in the coming general election, the opposition leaders spoke in unison — "Modi has to go".
The Congress was represented by Anand Sharma.
Disgruntled BJP lawmaker Shatrughan Sinha too later joined the leaders and trained his guns at his own party's government.
On a day when the CAG report on the 2015 Rafale fighter deal was tabled in Parliament, Sinha said Modi should speak the truth on the agreement between India and France because, as prime minister, he is accountable to the nation.
He even egged on the crowd on the issue, as they chanted, "Chowkidar chor hai".
The rally was organised nearly three weeks after Banerjee hosted Opposition leaders in Kolkata in a similar show of strength on January 19. On Monday, Naidu's day-long fast for special status to Andhra Pradesh became a rallying point for opposition leaders to forge a united front.
"We are going to defeat NDA in Lok Sabha polls. Modi will be ex-PM very soon," Naidu said.
Yechury alleged that BJP is professing politics of 'Dushashan' by pitting brothers against brothers.
"There is a need to replace this government for a better India. This chowkidar needs to be removed to save the country.
"BJP is like Kaurava Sena but the Pandavas (Opposition) will defeat them and save the country," he said.
Interestingly, minutes before Banerjee arrived, Yechury and CPI leader D Raja moved away from the stage.
Raja asserted that ever since Modi became prime minister, there have been attacks on constitutional values of the country. He said India is defined as a secular, democratic republic while BJP's ideology is "sectarian, communal and divisive".
Congress leader Sharma said that "this dharna is a message of the voice of India that has been betrayed in the last five year by BJP and Modi".
Huge posters having the image of BR Ambedkar and slogans like "Tanashahi Hatao Loktantra Bachao" dotted the venue.
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Updated Date: Feb 13, 2019 21:58:31 IST