New Delhi: West Bengal on Saturday witnessed the Opposition’s show of strength at a mega anti-BJP rally organised by Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee at Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata. Setting the tone for the Lok Sabha Elections 2019, the leaders of 22 Opposition parties targeted the Narendra Modi government at the Centre while vowing to oust it in the upcoming polls.

On one hand, the TMC chief raised a slogan for a change of government at the centre and said that the expiry date of the Modi government is over and on the other, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called upon the people to defeat the dangerous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at any cost. “The Modi government has done what Pakistan couldn’t do for the last 70 years,” he had said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked the Opposition’s ‘United India’ rally and said that the ‘gathbandhan’ formed is not against him but against the people of India. “My actions against corruption have infuriated some people. It’s but natural for them to get angry as I’ve prevented them from looting public money. Consequently, they have now formed an alliance called Mahagathbandhan,” he said.

The mega event saw the participation of 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. The Congress was represented by Mallikarjun Kharge and Abhishek Manu Singhvi. Kharge read out a message from UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi wishing success to the rally.

Addressing the rally, former PM HD Deve Gowda said, “The entire country will stand together against the BJP that is misusing power to uproot democratic values of this nation… People want a new government which will protect the democratic system.”

Aam Aadmi Party leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused the Modi government of dividing the country on the basis of religion, caste, and creed. While, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar said that there is no institution which has not been destroyed by the Modi government. He added, “If they do, they will change the Constitution and turn India into a dictatorship.”

DMK president MK Stalin said that the coming Lok Sabha polls will be like second freedom struggle, whereas the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader said that this Opposition meet will give PM Modi sleepless nights.

The rally also witnessed BJP dissident Shatrughan Sinha addressing the gathering. Hitting out at the Modi government, he said that he was not afraid of being removed from the party, insisting he would continue to ‘show the mirror’ to it and ‘call a spade a spade’. The BJP, however, has decided to take cognisance of Sinha.

Besides attacking the Centre, several opposition leaders also demanded the use of ballot papers instead of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the upcoming general elections as they claimed that the machines are a source of “all sorts of malpractices”.

Meanwhile, to counter Mamata Banerjee’s mega rally, the BJP has decided to organise a series of rallies in all 42 Lok Sabha seats of West Bengal till February 8. BJP president Amit Shah, who is admitted to AIIMS Delhi after being diagnosed with swine flu, will address rallies in various parts of the state beginning January 22.