The United India Rally organised by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at Kolkata’s Brigade Parade Ground on Thursday kick-started Opposition’s campaign for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections scheduled to be held later this year. Top Opposition leaders, including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, among many others attended the rally. Addressing the event, the Opposition leaders spoke in one voice and vowed to defeat the Narendra Modi-led BJP.
Speaking at the rally, Akhilesh Yadav accused the ruling Narendra Modi government of trying to ‘poison’ the society. Responding to BJP’s ‘many grooms jibe’ over PM candidate, the SP leader said that the prime minister’s face for the Opposition will be chosen by the people.
"Today, I tell them that the face will be one chosen by the people. You have many groups in your alliance too, and that includes the CBI and the ED, but we have allied with the people," he said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who delivered a passionate speech at the rally, said that what Pakistan could not do to India in the 70 years, the Modi-Shah duo has done that in just five years.
“What Pakistan could not achieve in 70 years since India’s independence, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have achieved in five years. They have turned Hindus against Muslims, Muslims against Christians. If they return to power the country will disintegrate” Kejriwal said at Mamata Banerjee’s Kolkata rally.
National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah also echoed similar sentiments and accused the Modi government of dividing people in the name of religion and sought Opposition parties to unite to defeat the BJP. Abdullah also raised the contentious issue of EVM machines and demanded paper ballots.
"The EVMs are chor (thieving) machines, and there is no system like this in anywhere else in the world. We need to bring back paper ballots," Abdullah said, asserting all parties to unite against the BJP, which is "dividing people on the basis of religion".
The only big face that was missing from the rally was Congress president Rahul Gandhi. The Congress, however, send Mallikarjun Kharge, who read a special message from Sonia Gandhi - "the upcoming general elections will be on the faith of restoring democracy in our country."
Reacting to the mega rally, the BJP termed the leaders of the Opposition “tired wrestlers” and said that they were jumping in the ring to try their luck. "Ye sab thake huye pite huye pehelwan hain jo akhaade mein ja kar phir apni qismat aazmana chahte hain. Pehla gathbandhan(in Karnataka) hi is haal mein hai toh aage kya hoga. (All of them are lost and tired wrestlers who want to try their luck once more time. Their first alliance is in peril then what would happend next.)" Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.