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Those who defected to BJP, did under fear, says Rahul Gandhi in Mumbai

Updated on: 18 March,2024 06:58 AM IST  |  Mumbai
A Correspondent |

Rahul Gandhi, Oppn launch poll campaign in city with scathing criticism of PM, BJP policies

Those who defected to BJP, did under fear, says Rahul Gandhi in Mumbai

Rahul Gandhi with sister Priyanka, Mallikarjun Kharge, Uddhav Thackeray and other senior leaders at Shivaji Park on Sunday. Pic/Rane Ashish

Key Highlights

  1. Rahul Gandhi’s 63-day-long Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra culminated in a formidable show of unity
  2. Opposition INDIA bloc convened at a rally in Shivaji Park
  3. Various leaders within the INDIA bloc addressed the crowd

Rahul Gandhi’s 63-day-long Bharat Jodo Nyay Manzil Yatra, spanning Manipur to Maharashtra, culminated in a formidable show of unity on Sunday. To kickstart their poll campaign, the Opposition INDIA bloc convened at a rally in Shivaji Park, led by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. Various leaders within the INDIA bloc addressed the crowd, directing pointed criticisms toward Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP. Issues such as GST, demonetisation, EVMs, electoral bonds, the Agniveer scheme, and unemployment, among others, took centre stage at the rally. 

Gandhi emphasised the challenge of communication being controlled by those in power rather than the people themselves, highlighting the media’s neglect of crucial issues affecting farmers, the poor, and instances of violence. He stressed the necessity of initiatives like his yatra to directly engage with the populace due to limitations imposed by controlled media channels and social media platforms.

 Rahul Gandhi along with other I.N.D.I.A alliance leaders take part in Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra at Shivaji Park on Sunday. Pic/Atul KambleRahul Gandhi along with other I.N.D.I.A alliance leaders take part in Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra at Shivaji Park on Sunday. Pic/Atul Kamble

Regarding defections from the party, Gandhi shared an anecdote illustrating a broader trend of individuals succumbing to fear and relinquishing their fight against established power structures. He said, “I don’t want to name the leader but a very senior leader, while leaving the Congress party, expressed his dismay to my mother, admitting he lacked the strength to fight these people. He is not alone; many like him have defected to the BJP out of fear.”

Taking a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the controversy surrounding EVMs, Gandhi said, “Today, if they scrap EVMs, Narendra Modi can never win the election. We demanded the Election Commission to demonstrate the working of these machines, but they refused. Modi is just a mask... there is no 56-inch chest; it’s all hollow. I know all this system from within. I have worked very closely which is exactly why Narendra Modi is scared of me.”

Rahul Gandhi and other leaders at Shivaji Park on Sunday. Pic/Rane AshishRahul Gandhi and other leaders at Shivaji Park on Sunday. Pic/Rane Ashish

Alleging media control by corporates linked to the BJP, Gandhi criticised, “Media houses are controlled by corporates who, in turn, are controlled by the BJP. Within 10 days, an international airport is opened up for a wedding, but why not for common people? Get the list of media house owners; it won’t have any names of tribals or backward-class individuals.”

Calling PM Modi, a monopoly of corruption, Gandhi accused the government of engaging in extortion, corruption, and favouritism. “This is not a country of hate, it is a country of love the hate is being spread to loot you,” Gandhi concluded.

The mega rally witnessed the presence of prominent leaders such as Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra, Uddhav Thackeray, Sharad Pawar, MK Stalin, Tejashwi Yadav, Mehboba Mufti, Farooq Abdullah, among others. Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge also attended the rally.

Modi ka parivar

Throughout the event, speakers addressed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his family. Uddhav Thackeray, taking a jab at his former ally, said, “BJP is like a balloon, and unfortunately, we were the ones who pumped air into it. Today, that inflated air has gone to their heads. We have always stood against dictatorship. PM Modi and BJP often criticise us for nepotism. But I must say, PM Modi, your family is limited to just you and your chair.” Concluding his speech, Thackeray shared the slogan, “Ab ki baar BhaJaPa Tadipaar” (This time, it’s time for BJP to be ousted).

Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi (VBA) leader Prakash Ambedkar criticised Modi, saying, “They talk about Hinduism and Hindu culture, where the family plays a pivotal role. In that case, Modiji should live with his wife. I understand it’s his personal matter, but it was the RSS who initiated discussions on cultural and national issues, yet they are not adhering to their principles.”

Oppn alleges corruption

Various speakers raised concerns about EVMs, corruption, and the alleged control of the ED and CBI by the BJP. Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah emphasised that people’s votes should honour those who have sacrificed their lives for the country. He denounced the EVM as a “thief” and urged voters to verify their VVPAT receipts after casting their ballots. AAP leader Saurabh Bhardwaj urged citizens to turn out in large numbers to vote and counter the alleged manipulation and scam of EVMs. He asserted that none of the INDIA bloc leaders fear imprisonment, alluding to Opposition figures facing investigations by the ED or CBI who have switched sides to join the BJP or its allies.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his frequent foreign trips and what he called “fake propaganda” during his ten-year tenure. Stalin asserted that there is no greater threat to India than the BJP and emphasised that the true victory of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra lies in defeating the BJP and capturing Delhi.

Tejashwi Yadav highlighted unemployment, poverty, inflation, and violence as the country’s biggest enemies, lamenting the central government’s failure to address these issues. He branded PM Modi as a “factory of lies” and warned people to beware of the BJP’s deceit, likening their promises to serving cow dung disguised as dessert. He further asserted that the leaders of the current Maharashtra government are not true leaders but mere dealers.

Mehbooba Mufti remarked that being a Gandhi in India is no easy task. She emphasised that throughout history, individuals bearing the name Gandhi, whether it be Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, or Rajiv Gandhi, have endured significant challenges and sacrifices for the nation. Mufti suggested that the BJP harbours a fear of the Gandhi name, which is deeply ingrained and likely to persist. She criticised Prime Minister Modi for ascending to power on promises of development and the security of women, yet failing to deliver on any of these commitments.

The event kicked off and wrapped up with performances by Vishal and Rekha Bharadwaj. Amid the rally, the Vikas dance group from Dharavi delivered a captivating dance performance. 

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