Prime Minister Narendra Modi today took on a projected opposition alliance for the coming Lok Sabha elections, which had a jumpstart yesterday following a massive 23-party rally held in Kolkata. Accusing the opposition grand alliance of being about “corruption, negativity and instability”, the Prime Minister said the rally was merely an effort to explain their inevitable defeat.
“The opposition is staring at defeat in the 2019 election… they are looking for excuses and so EVMs are being vilified,” the Prime Minister said at a meeting with party workers in Congress-ruled Goa today.
A campaign against the Electronic Voting Machines was considered one of the key focus areas — a list of which was drawn up after yesterday’s rally.
Several opposition leaders, including Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference, had labelled the EVMs “chor machine” – an allegation that started last year following a string of BJP victories in assembly elections, especially the party’s sweep in Uttar Pradesh.
Several voters had alleged that the EVMs had recorded their votes wrongly. Later, Mayawati – one of the key opposition leaders — had demanded that paper ballots be re-introduced for elections and the EVMs junked.
Senior BJP leader Ram Madhav was among the first to respond. “I don’t want to react to Farooq Abdullah, I want to ask the Congress leadership in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan whether they agree that because the EVMs were “chor” the party could win in those states,” he said.
Bengal Chief Minister and organiser Mamata Banerjee had said the rally was an opportunity to listen to the one another. The BJP called it a meet of “opportunistic elements” and political dynasts.
“Most leaders at that stage in Kolkata were either sons of influential people or were trying to set up their own children. They have ‘dhanshakti’ (power of wealth), while we have ‘janshakti’ (power of the people)”.
The opposition, PM Modi said, has formed alliances with each other. “We’ve formed alliance with 125 crore countrymen. Which alliance do you think is stronger?” the Prime Minister said.
Several leaders who attended the opposition rally said the prospect of facing a united alliance was making the BJP extremely uncomfortable.
National Conference chief Omar Abdullah tweeted: “24 hours later the PM is still talking about #UnitedIndiaAtBrigade. Must say I’m surprised! I’d have thought he’d want people to forget the display of strength on @MamataOfficial didi’s part.”
BJP’s actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha, who had attended the meet along with party rebels Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, tweeted to say that the gathering was a “wake-up call” for the Central government in many ways.