Addressing the ‘United India’ rally, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav said people's rights were under the threat as he attacked the Centre for curtailing people's rights. He said the 2019 Lok Sabha elections would see a fight between the alliance of the BJP, CBI and ED on one hand and the Mahagathbandhan on the other.
Sketching out the strategy ahead of polls, Mamata said that Akhilesh Yadav, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Arvind Kejriwal will comprise the committee to prepare draft on EVM and meet the Election Commission. It is important to protect democracy." She also said the opposition might meet during the upcoming parliament session.
CLICK TO READ | At Mamata Banerjee's Kolkata Rally, Deve Gowda's Solution on Herculean Seat Sharing Task
The Janata Dal (Secular) supremo said a small group of senior leaders should be formed to decide on a roadmap on how they will ensure good governance.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi targeted the 'mahagathbandhan' (grand alliance) mulled by opposition parties, calling it a combine of those he prevented from looting India. He also took potshots at the TMC's opposition rally in Kolkata while addressing a public function at Silvassa, the capital of the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
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Speaking in Silvassa, Narendra Modi said it's natural for the opposition to get angry as he stopped them from "looting the country".
Representing the Congress at a mega gathering of opposition parties here on Saturday, Mallikarjun Kharge said party chief Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had sent their good wishes for the rally. At the rally, Kharge, the leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha, read out a message from Sonia Gandhi, highlighting the "crisis" looming over the country with farmers and fishermen living under immense strain.
Former TMC leader termed the opposition rally as 'circus'. "Various jokers and lying artists coming together to destroy India again," he wrote on Twitter.
West Bengal is again witnessing a circus under @mamataOfficial’s rule similar to what Jyoti Basu had started. Various jokers and lying artists coming together to destroy India again. #UnitedAntiNationalsAtBrigade pic.twitter.com/A7XaOBg0ip— Mukul Roy (@MukulR_Official) January 19, 2019
At the rally, former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha 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. Sinha who quit the BJP recently said, under the present regime praising the government was "desh bhakti"(patriotism), criticising it is "desh drohi" (sedition).
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Yadav reminded that in a democracy people make the final decision; he made an appeal to stop the BJP from coming back to power in various states.
Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda Saturday said with the general elections close at hand, the opposition parties should forget their differences and come together to fight the BJP unitedly. The Janata Dal (Secular) supremo said a small group of senior leaders should be formed to decide on a roadmap on how they will ensure good governance. The herculean task of seat sharing for the coming Lok Sabha elections has to be addressed to ensure direct fight against the BJP, he said.
"BJP has two seats in West Bengal. They will lose that very soon. Just wait and see how our allies will do in the upcoming elections. I urge Hardik and Jignesh to keep moving ahead. There will be no achche din for BJP. I am not concerned about who becomes the PM, I just want BJP to go," says Mamata Banerjee during United India rally.
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The Congress leader said the biggest beneficiary of vote division is the BJP.
"This meeting has been forced by historical necessity. You ask who's the leader of the Opposition. There are so many people on the stage. Can't you see? We have many leaders unlike your party. They have destroyed the image of CBI that we used to respect before. Officers are not bad," says Mamata Banerjee.
Lalu Yadav's son and RLD leader Tejashwi Yadav is addressing the gathering in Kolkata, blames Modi and Amit Shah for his late arrival. "With this huge gathering, Modi will have sleepless nights from now onwards. ED, CBI are all coalition partners of BJP. They hatched a conspiracy and sent my father to jail with the help of CBI," he says.
CLICK TO READ | Modi is Not the Mudda: Yashwant Sinha Pre-Empts BJP Attack at Oppn's Kolkata Rally
The former Union Minister made fun of Modi government's slogan of
"Demonetisation was announced in haste. They announced without considering the people and other senior party leaders. Even the finance minister was not kept in the loop before announcing demonetisation. Women, who had accumulated some wealth for their families' benefit, were left in lurch when note ban happened. They lost crores due to it," says Shatrughan, adding that even before people could get over demonetisation, GST happened.
"Even before being a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, I am leader of Bharat. So whatever I say or do, is for the people and for their benefit. I am answerable to them. Hence, I try to show BJP a mirror so that they understand that it's a democracy and they cannot do such injustice. Yashwant Sinha tells me that BJP will now throw me out of the party. But I am not scared because I am a people's man," Shatrughan says.
We Present Views of the NEWS: Shatrughan | Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rebel leader and veteran leader Shatrughan Sinha says, "I haven't seen such a huge crowd in the recent past. It's the magic of our leader, Mamata Banerjee. We have gathered here to present the views of the NEWS (North, East, West and South)."
Mamata Banerjee speaks at the ‘United India’ rally in Kolkata on Saturday.
Earlier, former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah called Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) 'chor' machines and said opposition leaders must urge the poll panel to do away with them. Earlier, ex-BJP leader and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha urged opposition parties to make the country’s “failing economy” as the election issue in upcoming Lok Sabha polls. At the rally being hosted by Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Sinha said the opposition parties must counter the BJP’s attempt to paint the opposition unity as a single-agenda bloc. The Kolkata rally was earlier opened by Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, who warned that the country is going through an “unprecedented crisis”.
More than 20 national leaders, including former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha, Shatrughan Sinha and Arun Shourie; three present chief ministers Arvind Kejriwal, Chandrababu Naidu and HD Kumaraswamy; and former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Akhilesh Yadav and Gegong Apang will attend the meeting, TMC sources said. Most of them have already arrived in the city.
"I have met Deve Gowda-ji, Hemant-ji (Hemant Soren of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha) and Akhilesh Yadav. I will meet other Opposition leaders too," Banerjee told reporters.
With Bharatiya Janata Party's recent defeats in the Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Banerjee has raised the pitch to be united against the saffron party in the 2019 general election.
Bahujan Samaj Party general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra, Nationalist Congress Party supremo Sharad Pawar, Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, too, have already arrived.
Large-scale preparations have been made to ensure that it is a complete success. Besides the huge stages, 20 watch towers have been erected and 1,000 microphones and 30 LED screens put up so that the spectators can see and hear the speeches of the leaders clearly.
Lakhs of TMC supporters and workers are expected to attend the rally and huge numbers of them from various corners of the state have already started pouring into the city. They have been put up in the outskirts of the city and in some auditoriums and stadiums. Hundreds of TMC volunteers will be on the grounds to take care of supporters.
A thick security blanket has been thrown on the sprawling Brigade Parade Ground — the venue for the mega rally to prevent any untoward incident. As many as 10,000 police personnel will be deployed and around 400 police pickets have been set up to ensure foolproof security, police said.
Policemen in plain clothes, personnel of the Rapid Action Force and Quick Response Team would be deployed at the rally venue. Police posting would start from as early as 4am with senior officials in the rank of assistant commissioners in charge of the five dais set up for the rally, a senior police officer said.
"We are expecting a huge turnout from all parts of the state as well as from the country. There will be so many important dignitaries. We have arranged foolproof arrangements for their security," he said.
Separate entrances have been arranged for the five dais that would be looked after by around 15 teams of police officers, he said adding that commandos and other officers would also be posted there.
"We are not allowing any food stall near the venue. Only water tanks are being allowed at a safe distance from the dais. Nobody will be allowed to light fire near the venue for cooking or any other purpose," the officer said.
Vehicular movement in and around the venue has been either restricted or directed. "VVIPs will be taken in small cars to the venue. Other would have to park their vehicle at designated parking lots. We will not let anybody to drive motorbikes to the place," he said.
A central monitoring desk has been set up at the Kolkata Police headquarters to keep a watch on the proceedings of the rally.
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