I.N.D.I.A bloc displays show of strength with rally

NEW DELHI: The Opposition I.N.D.I.A bloc on Sunday held a show of strength at “save democracy, save constitution” rally at Delhi’s historic Ramlila Maidan. The Opposition leaders also expressed solidarity with arrested Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren, and urged people to vote out the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections.

They adopted a five-point charter that included a demand that the Election Commission must ensure a level playing field in Lok Sabha elections. It also said the EC must stop all coercive action by the ED, CBI and the income-tax department against the Opposition parties aimed at manipulating the elections, and demanded the immediate release of Hemant Soren and Arvind Kejriwal.

The Opposition also sought an SIT, supervised by the Supreme Court, to investigate allegations of quid pro quo, “extortion and money-laundering by the BJP using the electoral bonds.”

This is the first joint rally of the I.N.D.I.A. bloc partners which was attended by all the allies after almost six months.

The leaders of the I.N.D.I.A. bloc asserted that the BJP was using “unfair means against Opposition parties” in a bid to win the Lok Sabha polls and a non-level playing field was being created.

Addressing the rally, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge described the RSS-BJP combine as a “poison” that has “destroyed” the country, and called on all Opposition parties to unite and defeat the ruling party in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of trying to do “match-fixing” in the Lok Sabha polls and said that if the BJP succeeds in its endeavour, the country’s constitution will be changed and people’s rights taken away. Attacking the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), Rahul Gandhi said: “The BJP is raising the slogan of getting 400 seats, but without EVMs, match-fixing, pressure on Opposition leaders and buying the media, they will not be able to cross even 180 seats. The Congress is the biggest Opposition party and all its accounts have been frozen.”

Terming that the BJP is worried, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav said: “The BJP is worried that it is going (out of power). While we (Opposition leaders) are coming to Delhi today, the Prime Minister is going out of Delhi. This shows who is going out (of power).” Mounting an attack on the government over the issue of electoral bonds, he said: “This is a new invention... Put ED, CBI, I-T to work, and get as much donation as you like.”

Shiv Sena UBT chief and Maharashtra’s former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray hit out at the Central government over the arrests of Kejriwal and Soren. He said: “We are not here for an election campaign we are here to save democracy... You level allegations and send people to jail. What kind of government is this?”

“When two of our sisters are fighting, how can the brother stay behind? So, we are here for our sisters, Kalpana ji and Sunita ji. Not just us, the whole country is with you,” Thackeray said, referring to former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren’s wife Kalpana Soren and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s wife Sunita Kejriwal.
Sunita Kejriwal and Kalpana Soren were also on stage. Sunita Kejriwal read out Arvind Kejriwal’s message to the gathering. Kejriwal’s message included six guarantees on behalf of the I.N.D.I.A. bloc -- uninterrupted power supply, free electricity for the poor, government schools, mohalla clinics and multi-speciality hospitals, minimum support price for farmers, and full statehood for Delhi.

AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra spoke at the end of the rally. “I have been coming to the Ramlila Maidan since childhood. Every year Ravan’s effigy is set on fire… When I was a kid, I used to come (here) with my grandmother Indira ji and she used to narrate the Ramayana to me. Those in power today call themselves Ram bhakts. When I was sitting here, I thought that I should say something to them. I want to remind them of the 1,000-year-old tale and its message.”

“When Lord Rama fought for the truth, he did not have power, resources or even a chariot. Ravan had chariots, resources, an army and gold but Lord Rama had truth, hope, belief, love, kindness, modesty, patience, courage and truth. I want to tell those in power and Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the message of Lord Rama’s life is that power is not permanent… And arrogance gets shattered.”

The leaders on stage included Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, former presidents Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Jharkhand Chief Minister Champai Soren, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray; Left leaders Sitaram Yechury, D. Raja, Dipankar Bhattacharya; Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav; RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav and TMC’s Derek O’Brien. Kejriwal’s wife Sunita Kejriwal and JMM leader Hemant Soren’s wife Kalpana Soren. The rally was attended by thousands of supporters of the I.N.D.IA. bloc.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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