Opposition leaders, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, gathered in New Delhi on Wednesday for a mega rally organised by Aam Aadmi Party, where they slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party as a 'threat to democracy' which must be defeated in the coming general election.
The rally has been organised nearly three weeks after Banerjee hosted Opposition leaders in Kolkata in a similar show of strength on January 19.
Speaking at the rally, Communist Party of India leader D Raja said the Constitution is under attack under Narendra Modi as prime minister and asserted that Parliament has been undermined and bypassed and its role has been minimised under Modi.
"Can you allow a Germany-like situation where Hitler overpowered Reichstag (German parliament)," he said.
"BJP in power is a threat to constitution and democracy. It must be defeated," he added.
Raja asserted that ever since Modi became prime minister, there have been attacks on constitutional values of the country.
He said India is defined as a secular, democratic republic while BJP's ideology is 'sectarian, communal and divisive'.
"Whenever fascist powers have tried to capture power, they first destroy democratic institutions.
"And I am not just taking about CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation), RBI (Reserve Bank of India)... Institution of Parliament being undermined, bypassing Parliament, minimising its role. It is maximum Modi, minimum governance and minimum Parliament," he said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and other AAP leaders were present at the rally.
Huge posters having the image of Dr B R Ambedkar and slogans like 'Tanashahi Hatao, Loktantra Bachao' dotted the venue.
Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury alleged that BJP is professing politics of 'Dushashan' by pitting brothers against brothers.
"There is need to replace this government for a better India. This chowkidar needs to be removed to save the country.
"The BJP is like Kaurava Sena but the Pandavas (Opposition) will defeat them and save the country," he said.
Interestingly, minutes before Mamata Banerjee arrived, the two left leaders moved away from the stage.
Banerjee said that while the Congress and the Trinamool Congress will contest against each other in the state, they will fight together at the national level against the BJP.
The statement comes hours after Banerjee, upset with Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury's attack on her over the Saradha chit fund case in the Lok Sabha, registered her displeasure with United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi in Parliament.
Sources said Gandhi, while trying to placate her, said, "We are accusing each other but we are friends," to which the TMC chief responded: "I will remember."
"Any fight with the Congress will remain in the state. At the national level, we will fight together, this I am saying from the heart...
"For the greater interest of the country, I am ready to sacrifice my life, my party. I am ready to sacrifice everything," she said.
Banerjee, who is in Delhi till Thursday, also met Rashtriya Janata Dal's Misa Bharti, Bahujan Samaj Party's Satish Mishra, Samajwadi Party's Jaya Bachchan and Dimple Yadav in her room in Parliament in the morning.
Addressing the protest, Banerjee appealed to all opposition parties to play to their strengths and not cut into each others' votes.
She also asked them to ensure that they get all the seats in the states they are strong in.
"Whichever party is strong should work there, fight there against the BJP, in Delhi, it's AAP, in UP, it is BSP, SP, in Kashmir, there is Farooq Abdullah...for higher good, some sacrifices are needed...If we want, we can fight in many more seats, but we never do this for the higher good," she said.
In an apparent dig at the Congress whose state unit is fighting tooth and nail against the TMC, Banerjee said while the Rahul Gandhi-led party is strong in the three heartland states, they should not cut into her party's votes in West Bengal.
"We tell the Congress, if you are strong in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, you should fight there. But where we are strong, don't let the BJP win.
"I am used to fighting the BJP, CPM and the Congress because in Bengal, these three parties fight together.
"Even if we make an understanding, they don't transfer votes. I am used to this. I am not scared. How much ever they fight, I will get 42 out of 42," she asserted.
The TMC chief also attacked the Centre over the Central Bureau of Investigation's failed bid to question Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar at his home, saying she has never seen a government that 'stooped so low'.
"It is the prime minister's last day as elected leader in Parliament today," she said after the Lok Sabha adjourned sine die.
"Everyone is afraid of Gabbar Singh. There are two of them -- (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi and (BJP chief Amit) Shah," she claimed.
She said that the PM's speech in Parliament was 'his last' in the House as a people's representative and that his government has reached its 'expiry date'.
Calling out the government for erecting statues and spending money on building its party office, Banerjee said that they did not respect the great leaders of the country and remembered them only during elections.
"They remember these people only during elections. They only want to make statues," she said.
Asserting that regional parties are not weak, she appealed to all these parties to mobilise their workers so that the anti-BJP front gets stronger.
"Regional parties are not weak, my party, Sharad Yadav's party, Farooq Abdullah's party and the others are all recognised parties.
"It's just that the BJP has a lot of money. How much money is spent on one meeting of Modi?
"They give bike, cars, thousands of rupees...They have made a party office in Delhi which is no less than a shopping mall," Banerjee said.
She alleged that ministers of this government had called her to stop her from talking against the PM which she rebuffed.
"Can't I even talk?...send the CBI to my house, let me now and I will make lunch for them, whatever they want, be it vegetarian or non-vegetarian...
"I am not scared. Shrouds wait for me, I don't wait for shrouds (kafan humara intezar karta hai, hum kafan ke liye nahi). This is my fight," she said.
Stating that the situation in India was more dangerous than the days during the emergency, Banerjee said democracy has become 'Namocracy'.
"It is easy to see dreams but you should know how to dream. Modiji, you don't know how to dream, you know how to break the country. I know how to join the country...we will all fight together," she said.
Other senior leaders including SP's Ram Gopal Yadav, AAP's Sanjay Singh, Nationalist Congress Party's Sharad Pawar and Loktantrik Janata Dal chief Sharad Yadav were also present at the rally.
Stressing that the rally organised by Kejriwal was 'historic', former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Gegong Apang said instead of celebrating our diversity, a 'minimal, illiberal and monotheistic idea is being imposed'.
"It is appropriate time to fight autocracy and save democracy. People are unhappy with the Modi government," he said.
He said the central government is also not paying heed to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill protests in Arunachal Pradesh.
"The Centre has a 'Look East' policy but it is against the people of northeast," he alleged and said he has come to Delhi with a 'deep sense of anguish'.
"Mizoram said it will be a different country if this government comes back in power. Arunachal also feels the same. India is a united country and if any government tries to impose CAB in northeast, people will uproot it," he said.
Samajawadi party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said Uttar Pradesh will play a crucial role in 2019 and asserted BJP will not open its account in UP, which has 80 Lok Sabha seats.
He said the SP-Bahujan Samaj Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance will 'create a situation' in UP that Modi will have to find another seat, besides Varanasi, to contest the coming Lok Sabha election.
This Opposition, he said, will defend the country and save democracy from BJP.
"All democratic institutions are under assault," he alleged, adding, "We need to identify the elements, who, in partnership with BJP, are trying to weaken Kejriwal and Mamata governments."
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi said she is here on behalf of her party chief Stalin to extend support to Opposition leaders.
"This BJP government has to go if economy, farmers, deprived people, freedom of expression is to be protected," she said.
Kejriwal launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging he is trying to tear apart the Constitution and destroy democracy.
He said Modi should speak the truth on the agreement between India and France because, as prime minister, he is accountable to the nation.
"Modi is trying to tear apart the Constitution. He is destroying democracy," he said at the mega rally.
Referring to the controversy over the visit of a number of Central Bureau of Investigation officials visiting the Kolkata police commissioner's residence in connection with its probe into chit-fund cases, Kejriwal said sending '40 CBI officers' from Delhi was an attack on the elected government of West Bengal.
He also alleged that the Modi government has 'captured' the Anti Corruption Branch in the last four years.
"Who dreams of capturing Delhi and Kolkata? The prime minister of Pakistan," Kejriwal said sarcastically.
A host of opposition leaders, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu, National Conference's Farooq Abdullah, Nationalist Congress Party's Sharad Pawar and CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury also spoke during the rally.