The rough draft of a 'mahagathbandhan' took shape at Mamata Banerjee's 'United India' rally in Kolkata as 25 political leaders from over 20 political parties joined hands with a shared agenda of taking on the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. They also agreed to take this partnership forward with more such rallies in other states and a concrete action plan in the form of a joint policy document.
While agreeing to tackle the question of the Opposition's prime ministerial face after the election results, leader after leader targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP over "rising intolerance," demonetisation, GST and alleged corruption in the Rafale deal. Jammu and Kashmir National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, former prime minister and JD(S) leader H D Deve Gowda, AAP leader and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, TDP leader and Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu, SP leader Akhilesh Yadav, RJD's Tejashwi Yadav, Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav, DMK's M K Stalin, AIUDF's Badruddin Ajmal and JMM's Hemant Soren were among those who not only shared the stage with Banerjee, but also touched upon how they could take the Opposition unity forward before the Lok Sabha elections. The Congress, represented by Mallikarjun Kharge, who read out Sonia Gandhi's message of support, and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, too, made it clear that the party was willing to be a part of the grand alliance.
Also present on the stage were NCP leader Sharad Pawar, NC's Omar Abdullah, Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, Patidar leader Hardik Patel, Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, former Arunachal Pradesh CM Gegong Apang, Zoram Nationalist Party leader Lalduhawma, RLD vice-president Jayant Chaudhary, BSP leader Satish Mishra, former NDA ministers Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha, and BJP rebel Shatrughan Sinha. Trinamool sources said that 20,00,000 people attended the meeting.
It’s anti-people: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi scoffed at the Kolkata rally saying it is an alliance where the only aim of the partners is to save their fast waning political careers. “They have all gathered to save themselves from BJP. They are seeing public support slipping away and I can hear desperate screams of ‘bachaao, bachaao, bachaao (Save us),” said Modi while addressing a public meeting in Silvassa, the capital of Union territory of Dadra & Nagar Haveli.
Modi said the formation of ‘mahagathbandhan’ stems from his crackdown on corruption and elimination of ‘political agents’ who once had a free run in the corridors of power. Without naming any alliance partner, he said, “The offensive against corruption and clean conscience has resulted in their middlemen and agents scurrying for cover. This, coupled with rejection by public, has left them completely rattled. So, they have formed this alliance out of sheer frustration.”