New Delhi: Leaders from 22 opposition parties may have called for a “collective leadership” to oust the BJP government at the Centre, but the issue of prime ministerial candidate continues to be a bone of contention in the proposed ‘mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance) as various parties are pitting their own candidates for the top post.

While Congress is pushing for Rahul Gandhi as the PM candidate of the united opposition, BSP wants Mayawati to lead the pact.

Speaking to ANI, Congress leader P L Punia asserted that people’s hopes rest on Rahul for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. “I am confident, that in 2019, people will show their confidence in Rahul Gandhi ji and he will form the government.”

“Why are they afraid of the opposition getting united. Yesterday, there were only 22 parties who got together on the stage. If one looks closely, BJP at present had formed an alliance with as many as 42 parties in several states. They are worried and scared after yesterday’s mega rally,” he added.

“We all have decided that Modi government should not come to power for the second time. People have shown their support for the Congress in three states. People are no kore in favour of the BJP. People knew that Acche din lies,” Punia said.

On the other hand, BSP’s Sudhindra Bhadoria projected Mayawati as the PM candidate, asserting that she will make efforts to uplift the poor, scheduled castes, Muslims and women in society.

“Dalits, poor, Muslims and women want that a person who can represent them should be the head. The party leaders of the BSP dream and desire that Mayawati should come forward and must take the lead. However, the final decision will be taken by the various quarters after the elections,” Bhadoria said.

Akhilesh Yadav, who has forged an alliance with Mayawati’s BSP for the Lok Sabha election, has time and again dodged the question of backing the Dalit leader as the PM face for the upcoming polls. He has, however, always maintained that the country needed a new prime minister.

The leaders of the anti-BJP parties at the TMC-led mega rally in Kolkata, which included stalwarts like NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, DMK’s M K Stalin, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal, reiterated the oft-repeated position that the prime ministerial face should be decided later and the one-point agenda should be to dethrone the Narendra Modi government.

While leading the anti-BJP opposition at the event with her ‘Delhi mein sarkar badal do’ slogan, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee pitched strongly for her candidature for the PM post, the event was highlighted by the absence of two prominent PM faces – Rahul Gandhi and Mayawati.

Though both had sent senior leaders to represent their parties, their absence spoke out loud.