INDIA parties project unity at rally in Ranchi | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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INDIA parties project unity at rally in Ranchi

By, Ranchi
Apr 22, 2024 12:50 AM IST

Leaders from opposition parties in the INDIA bloc rally in Ranchi, warning of BJP's decade-long rule and threat to the Constitution.

Leaders from more than two dozen opposition parties that make up the INDIA bloc urged people to end the BJP’s decade-long rule in power in a joint show of strength in Ranchi on Sunday, warning that they would “amend the Constitution”, and said that two chief ministers from the bloc — Arvind Kejriwal and Hemant Soren — were sent to jail because they refused to bow before the government.

INDIA bloc leaders at a rally in Ranchi on Sunday. (PTI)
INDIA bloc leaders at a rally in Ranchi on Sunday. (PTI)

The leaders, who included Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, former Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav, Samajwadi party president Akhilesh Yadav and National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, were addressing the “Ulgulan Nyaya Maharally” hosted by the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha. The 14 seats in Jharkhand go to the Lok Sabha polls in four phases, from May 13. Follow full coverage of the Lok Sabha elections here.

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The arrests of Hemant Soren and Arvind Kejriwal, both apprehended by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in separate cases on January 31 and March 21, respectively, were a central motif of the rally, with their wives Kalpana Soren and Sunita Kejriwal speaking in their stead, and two chairs with their names on the dais left unoccupied.

Congress president Kharge lashed out at the BJP and said, “People respect you (the Dalits, tribals and poor) because of the Constitution. Why do you think candidates go to the doorsteps of the poor, tribals, Dalits and the backward? It is because of Babasaheb’s Constitution that granted you the right to vote. If you forego your vote, you may never get a a chance again. Modi wants to change the constitution. Why do you think they want more than 400 seats?”

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The opposition has made this fear of a change in the constitution one of the central tenets of its campaign against the BJP over the past week, emphasising that there was a design to the BJP slogans that have pushed for 400 seats for the NDA, and that reservations for the scheduled castes and tribes could come under threat. The Opposition’s thrust has been bolstered by comments such as those made by former union minister for state and Karnataka based BJP leader Anantkumar Hegde in March when he said, “Congress leaders in the past made changes to the constitution and made it in a way that it doesn’t put Hinduism in front. We need to change it and save our religion.”

The BJP top brass has however taken pains to emphasise that they had no intention of changing the constitution, with Narendra Modi saying earlier this month that, “Even if Babasaheb Ambedkar himself comes back, he too can’t abolish the Constitution.”

But in Ranchi on Sunday, AAP leader Sanjay Singh pointed to the statements made by Hegde and a clutch of other BJP leaders and said, “They said they want 400 seats to change the constitution. They might end the reservation (for SC, ST and OBC) and also take away the right to vote. Their top RSS leader Mohan Bhagwat said in 2015 in Bihar that they would end the reservation... We follow Babsaheb’s constitution and not the constitution of Nagpur which is followed by the BJP.”

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, who arrived late as he had to fill in for Rahul Gandhi at Satna rally in Madhya Pradesh, underlined that the chair of Hemant Soren was empty as he refused to buckle under the BJP pressure to dump the INDIA front.

Speaking to a crowd that largely comprised of JMM, Congress and RJD workers, Kharge pointed to the two empty chairs on the dais and said, “Two chief ministers have been arrested. Hemant Soren was under pressure not to join the INDIA front. He was warned that he would be sent to jail if he chooses to join INDIA bloc. However, Hemant is a courageous man. He preferred to go to jail but decided not to leave INDIA.”

Also Read | Leaders of INDIA bloc are either in jail or bail: J P Nadda

Tejashwi Yadav said that while the BJP was misusing central agencies to achieve their ends, the ultimate test will be in the court of the people. “There are 134 seats in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. If we stay together here, the BJP can’t come back to power. I urge voters to stay together and vote for INDIA from candidates... the constitution we have was drafted by Babasaheb and not by any other Baba. No one can dare to change the Constitution till we are around,” he said.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said the 2024 election was being fought on issues that are deeper than just a change in government. “This time the election and your vote are to protect the Constitution. It is your vote that would ensure the release of Hemant Soren and Arvind Kejriwal from jail,” Yadav said.

Other speakers included Jharkhand chief minister Champai Soren, Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Maan, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, CPI –ML chief Dipankar Bhattacharya, TMC leader Vivek Gupta and Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Priyanka Chaturvedi. Kalpana Soren, the wife of Hemant Soren read out a written message from her husband, ostensibly written from jail, and said the BJP was trying to topple governments in Opposition-ruled states .

“Central agencies such as ED and CBI are being misused to suppress the opposition’s voice but BJP and such forces will be driven out from Jharkhand,” she read from the letter.

Sunita Kejriwal said her husband was jailed for working for the people and no charges could be proved against him.

“We will fight against dictatorship and win. The gates of jail will break and Arvind Kejriwal and Hemant Soren will come out,” she said.

The BJP however reacted strongly to the Opposition allegations and called the rally a “family get-together of corrupt political parties.”

“People who imposed emergency in this country do not have the right to give sermons on the Constitution. Why do they even call it an alliance. There was a representative of the TMC that did not give even a single seat to the Congress in Bengal. These parties are fighting amongst themselves in other states. People can see through all this,” said BJP senior leader and spokesperson Pratul Shahdeo.

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