Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's mega Opposition rally against the Narendra Modi government started in Kolkota today.
Leaders of all the opposition parties except the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the CPI(M)-led Left Front will be taking part in the rally, which the Trinamool Congress (TMC) has said will sound the "death knell" for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
More than 20 national leaders, including former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, his son and Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Sharad Pawar, Farooq Abdullah, Sharad Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav, Tejashwi Yadav, Hemant Soren and former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Gegong Apang, reached Kolkata on Friday to take part in the rally.Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is also expected to be in attendance.Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) senior party leader Satish Chandra Mishra will be present on Party Chief Mayawati''s behalf .
Large-scale preparations have been made to ensure that the rally turns out to be massive success. Besides the huge stages, 20 watchtowers have been erected and 1,000 microphones and 30 LED screens put up so that the spectators can see the leaders and hear them speak clearly.
As many as 10,000 security personnel have been deployed in and around the venue of the rally and around 400 police pickets have been set up to ensure foolproof security, the police said. Lakhs of TMC supporters and workers have arrived in the city from all over the state. Vehicular movement around the venue has been restricted, the police said.
JMM leader Hemant Soren called for "uprooting" the BJP from the country and said the opposition parties to give a "fitting" reply to the "communal" party in the next Lok Sabha polls.
Speaking at the mammoth united opposition rally hosted by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Soren said the way BJP is running the country will create a "violent and disturbing time for the country." "We the opposition parties have to give a fitting reply to the communal reply to the communal forces ... We will have to uproot BJP not only from the Centre but also from the states," the former chief minister of Jharkhand said.
It is because of the present political situation in the country - how communal forces are gaining ground, how BJP is trying to run the country and the states. I feel this is a dangerous situation for the country," he said. The country, he claimed, is aware of the violence that is being perpetrated by the BJP in Jharkhand, Gujarat and in other states, including Bengal. Soren urged the youth of the country to join in the efforts of the opposition parties to defeat BJP. "We have to give a fitting reply to the communal forces."
"Today, after 70 years of Independence, India is again facing a challenge," says Farooq Abdullah, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and the chief of National Conference (NC). The state that Jammu and Kashmir is in, BJP is responsible for putting J&K in that state... I am Muslim but I am a part of India," he said. EVMs should be destroyed because it is being used to steal votes... We must all come together to defeat the divisive forces and we should all go to the Election Commission he said further.
Former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha on Saturday came down heavily on the Narendra Modi government saying that this was the first government after Independence which has been playing "mischief" with the developmental statistics.
Addressing the opposition rally here, Sinha who quit the BJP recently said, under the present regime while praising the government was "desh bhakti"(patriotism), criticising it is "desh drohi" (sedition).
"After Independence this is the first government which has been presenting decorated and inflated developmental statistics to befool people," the former Union Finance minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government said apparently referring to the Niti Aayog downgrading GDP growth rate during UPA time.
Sinha, who was in a committee to find solution to the Kashmir problem said when he had suggested to talk to the cross-section of people in the environment of love, he was branded a "Pakistani agent".
From the dais itself, he urged NC leader Farooq Abdullah did he spoke wrong on this count, to which the NC leader nodded in negative.
The former Union Minister made fun of Modi's government's slogan of "sabka saath sabka vikas" and said the apt slogan would be "sabka saath sabka vinash".