PATNA: Buoyed by the success of the anti-BJP rally he hosted in Patna Sunday, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav now plans similar rallies of opposition parties in Lucknow and Kolkata in the next two months to give shape to a broad coalition of parties opposed to the NDA in time for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
RJD leaders said the huge turnout of people at the ‘BJP Bhagao, Desh Bachao’ (Banish BJP, Save India) rally held at Patna’s historic Gandhi Maidan has enthused 21 leaders from 17 parties from across the country who attended it. This, they said, was the beginning of “real opposition unity” in the country.
“The party chief (Lalu) has spoken to Mamata Banerjee and Akhilesh Yadav about preparations to hold similar rallies in Kolkata and Lucknow in the next two months in order to give greater national momentum to the unity of opposition parties,” said a senior RJD leader close to Lalu.
West Bengal CM and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and former Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav, who is also the national president of Samajwadi Party, had spoken of their gladness regarding the large crowd at the Patna rally in their speeches. Besides, they had attacked the BJP in harsh terms and called on the people to defeat the saffron party and its allies in the coming polls.
Lalu is also keen to bring BSP chief Mayawati on board despite her refusal to attend the Patna rally. Mayawati, despite her initial readiness to attend, stayed away, saying she wanted a clear plan of seat distribution in the opposition alliance before joining it.
He described the rally as the “unmistakable rise of people against injustice and forces of communalism and fascism”.Bihar’s ruling JD(U) and BJP slammed Lalu for the rally, calling it a failure. Chief minister Nitish Kumar of the JD(U), however, maintained silence over the event.
“This rally was Lalu’s foolish ploy to cheat Bihar’s people as usual. The photo-shopped picture he tweeted showing an overflowing Gandhi Maidan was a part of it. He naively thinks the rally will divert people’s attention from the benami properties his family has amassed and the corruption cases they are facing,” said deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi of BJP.