If we fight together, BJP won’t be seen anywhere, says Rahul Gandhi at Oppn meet

At gathering led by JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav, Gandhi urges opposition leaders from SP, Left and others to join hands to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party

india Updated: Aug 17, 2017 21:26 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji and Srinand Jha
Saubhadra Chatterji and Srinand Jha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rahul Gandhi,Narendra Modi,RSS
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh and former JD(U) president Sharad Yadav attend a day-long convention 'Sajha Virasat Bachao Sammelan' in New Delhi on Thursday. (PTI)

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi launched a fresh attempt to unite the opposition against Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, but the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party hit back at the effort as “an alliance of scared people” facing corruption charges.

Speaking at a meeting of 12 opposition parties, Gandhi said the BJP had failed to keep its promise to create jobs and fight corruption, while its ideological parent, the RSS, was busy subverting the constitution and embedding its own people in key institutions, including the judiciary, bureaucracy and media.

The meeting, attended by all the major opposition parties except Tamil Nadu’s DMK, brought together traditional rivals such as the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party as well as Trinamool Congress and the Communists.

“If we fight together, these people (the BJP) will not be seen anywhere,” Gandhi told the Sanjhi Virasat Bachao, or Save Composite Culture, meeting convened by Janata Dal (U) leader Sharad Yadav.

“One says this country is mine, other says I belong to the country. That’s the difference between RSS and us.” -- Rahul Gandhi, Congress vice president

Gandhi’s comments mark yet another opposition attempt to unite against the BJP, which has been emboldened by a string of state election victories, although its aura of invincibility has come under threat from a slowing economy and growing protests against religious and caste violence.

The move also comes weeks after a similar, fledgling endeavour failed when Janata Dal (U) leader Nitish Kumar broke from the opposition ranks and aligned with the BJP to head a new government with in Bihar. The decision split the JD (U) with Sharad Yadav now heading what he says is the real party.

BJP minister Ravi Shankar Prasad mocked the conclave, saying the opposition was trying to come together because it was scared of Prime Minister Modi.

But Gandhi attacked Modi’s marquee social and economic programmes, saying, “Wherever Modi goes he lies”.

“Modiji gave ‘Make In India’ but most things are ‘Made In China’. Truth is that Modiji’s Make in India has failed,” Gandhi said, adding the prime minister talks of Swachh Bharat (clean India) but “we want sach Bharat (honest India)”.

Gandhi also rounded on the RSS for following what he said was a divisive agenda.

“One says this country is mine, other says I belong to the country. That’s the difference between RSS and us,” he said.

“The RSS knows that its ideology cannot win elections so it is putting its men in every institution of the country.”

The remarks drew strong reactions from the BJP. Party leader Prasad told reporters, “They will lose [in elections] again”.

“This is an alliance of those who are worried over charges of corruption and are facing action. This is the real centre of this alliance,” he said.

Later, CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury said the BJP and its affiliates were posing a challenge to the character of the Indian state. Congress leader Ahmed Patel accused the BJP leaders of being “intoxicated by the arrogance of power”.

Sharad Yadav said the meeting represented the 69 percent electorate who had not cast their votes for the BJP.

First Published: Aug 17, 2017 13:43 IST