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Brigade rally plays on Modi’s mind

Modi says Opposition alliance is a nexus of corruption, scams, negativity and instability
Opposition leaders join hands during Trinamul Congress's mega rally in Calcutta on Saturday.

Our Special Correspondent   |   Mumbai   |   Published 20.01.19, 09:57 PM

The images of 24 pairs of arms raised skywards from a Calcutta dais appeared to be on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mind as he slammed the proposed Opposition alliance as a nexus of “corruption, scams, negativity and instability” on Sunday morning.

“They have struck an alliance among themselves; we have an alliance with the people,” Modi said during a videoconference with BJP workers from parts of Maharashtra and South Goa.

“You tell me, which alliance is stronger: an alliance of parties or one with the 125 crore people of this country?” he asked a party worker from Kolhapur.

He did not mention that the BJP itself is part of the National Democratic Alliance and shares power with its allies at the Centre and in several states, including Maharashtra and Goa.

“The mahagathbandhan is unique. It’s an alliance of the namdar (high-born), of bhai-bhatijawad (nepotism), of corruption, scams, instability and negativity. It’s a strange mewa (sweet),” the Prime Minister said.

Leaders of 23 Opposition parties, hosted by Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, had stressed the need for a united battle against the Modi government at Calcutta’s Brigade Parade Grounds on Saturday.

“Those on the dais in Calcutta were either the sons of heavyweight fathers or fathers trying to promote the careers of their sons and daughters,” Modi told his audience.

“They have dhanshakti (the power of wealth); we have janshakti (the power of people). Ek taraf paise ka ambar hai, hamare pas karmath karykarta ka pasina hai (On their side is a pile of wealth; on ours is the sweat of the hardworking party worker). They are trying to either promote or protect their families.”

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, who attended the rally with father Farooq Abdullah but did not make a speech, was quick to ask why Modi was still talking about the event.

He tweeted: “24 hours later the PM is still taking about United India at Brigade. Must say I’m surprised! I’d have thought he’d want people to forget the display of strength on Mamata Banerjee didi’s part.”

Without naming Mamata or the Trinamul Congress, Modi alluded to last year’s panchayat poll violence in Bengal to question the Opposition’s call to save democracy by ousting his government.

“If somebody files a nomination for the panchayat polls, he gets killed — and they are talking about saving democracy! Their parties have no internal democracy. They are making childish statements to misguide the people,” Modi said.

Referring to Farooq’s speech in Calcutta, where he had called the electronic voting machine a “chor machine”, Modi said: “They have already started citing reasons for their (impending) defeat. The EVM is being made the villain.”

He added: “Political parties naturally want to win elections. But some parties take the people for granted. They change their colours and try to fool the people. This dangerous game is a concern for the country. They don’t hesitate to give a bad name to the country’s institutions. They don’t believe any agency and are now accusing even constitutional bodies.”


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