New Delhi:20/1:(odiannews):Leaders of 18 opposition parties, cutting across regional and ideological barriers, resolved on Saturday to put up united fight against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and oust it from power in the upcoming general election, as they staged a massive show of strength at Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata.
An estimated half-a-million people were in attendance at the rally — the biggest organised at the historic venue in recent years. Political leaders from 14 states shared the stage at the event, an initiative of West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee, which virtually kicked off the election campaign of opposition.
“The BJP government has crossed its expiry date,” said Banerjee, who was the last to speak. Hardik Patel, a leader of the powerful Patidar community in Gujarat, from the homestate Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first to address the audience, which also heard BJP dissidents Arun Shourie, Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha call for the ouster of the Modi government .
“Have not seen anyone run a country in a such a fascist manner,” said Banerjee, who ended her speech with the slogan “BJP hatao, desh bachao” (remove BJP, save the country), followed by “Jai Hind, Vande Mataram.”.
Congress veteran Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha, read out a letter from United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chief Sonia Gandhi in which she urged the people to save the Constitution and the basic ethos of the nation. Kharge represented the Congress at the rally in the absence of party president Rahul Gandhi.