Lucknow: Hitting back at the BJP for attacking the opposition’s proposed ‘mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance) over the issue of the prime ministerial face, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav said on Monday that the country is looking for a new prime minister and the saffron party needed to come out with a new face, if it had one.

“…As far as the leadership issue is concerned, it is actually the people who decide it…You will see, in time to come, how many options we have,” he told reporters when asked who the leader of opposition parties against Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be.

“But one thing is totally clear that the country is waiting for a new prime minister…If the BJP, which is so concerned about us, has a new prime minister they should tell the people,” he added.

Yadav’s remarks came a day after the BJP mocked the Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee-led mega rally, which was attended by leaders of 22 opposition parties in Kolkata on January 19, suggesting names of several leaders for each day of the week for which one could take up the role of prime minister.

Senior BJP leader Siddharth Nath Singh suggested that Banerjee may become the PM for Monday, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati may don the PM’s role on Tuesday, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav may do it on Wednesday, Chandrababu Naidu on Thursday, Arvind Kejriwal on Friday and since Saturday and Sunday are supposed to be off days, Congress President Rahul Gandhi may take up the job for these two days.

Setting the tone for the Lok Sabha polls, leaders from 22 opposition parties came together at a mega rally in Kolkata and declared they will fight unitedly to oust the Narendra Modi government which has “passed its expiry date”.

Mamata Banerjee called for “collective leadership”, raising a slogan for a change at the Centre. “Delhi mein sarkar badal do,” she chanted.

Several speakers called for putting up a joint candidate in each constituency to take on the BJP and “save the country” from what was described as “the poison of communalism and vendetta politics”.

The issue of prime ministership would be decided after the polls and the regional parties would play an important role, they said.

To a question, the SP president said the leadership of the SP and the BSP have taken a decision on most of the seats and an announcement in this regard will be made soon.

“As far as SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav is concerned, the party will field him from the seat of his choice,” he said.

On the controversy over BJP MLA Sadhana Singh’s remarks against BSP president Mayawati, Yadav said the language being used by ruling party leaders is the result of their frustration.

“Since the BJP did nothing during its tenure, how will its leaders talk about work…Now that the elections are coming nearer, there will be a lot of more things as well,” he said.

Without naming the prime minister, Yadav said, “The one who is occupying the highest position is also using such language.”

On the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas, which started Monday in Varanasi, he said, “Since the past many years, we are waiting for the NRIs to invest in the state…Maybe those coming here will have a change of heart after seeing Kumbh and taking a holy dip in the Ganga, and they will invest in a big way.”

He, however, said some policies, decisions and confidence was required for making those sitting on the dias in the Pravasi Diwas function invest in the state.

“Thoko (shoot) policy will not bring confidence…I will ask them to use Lucknow-Agra expressway during their return journey and then they will know as to who works and who is betraying the people,” Yadav said.

On reports that the Yogi Adityanath government was preparing to give pension to seers, Yadav said they should get at least Rs 20,000 per month as pension.

He also called for restarting the Samajwadi Pension scheme and the one for Yash Bharti awardees which was given by the previous government.