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Unanimous aim

Unanimous aim

When the dust settled in Kolkata's Brigade parade ground, leaders from more than 20 parties across the nation had unanimously pronounced their anti-BJP sentiment. Convening the 'United India' rally, West Bengal CM Mamta Banerjee brought together the dissenting voices to display solidarity in the opposition camp. The unanimous dissent, prematurely existing within the political narratives of different parties across the nation, on Saturday, found a common pedestal. Speeches from different leaders poured in to reverberate the common theme of preventing BJP from coming to power and ousting Narendra Modi to save democracy. The eminent leaders opined on 'saving' India from the Modi-led government and its autocratic governance, stating the poor condition that the country was in. Raising issues such as the farmers' crisis, economic strain, institutions in turmoil, unemployment – the rally had a flavour of being the ruling government's ultimate critique, obviously. As different leaders addressed the mass gathering citing the ruling government's failed governance, one could see that the will to defeat the lotus party was more dominant than ever. Keeping aside their personal differences, they came to show the power of unity. Unity to prevent India from running down a regressive path at all costs. As opposition parties, their critical outlook of the current government is expected but not their mahagahtbandhan – owing to differences between them. Overlooking those to be part of this United India gathering was indeed the first step before the grand polls to ensure an anti-BJP consensus. Former PM HD Deve Gowda stressed the formation of a committee to prepare a common manifesto while cautioning that seat-sharing in states is going to be the biggest challenge. For heading a coalition government himself, Gowda was probably the best person to advocate the idea of coalition governments amongst people. More so since BJP's alleged operation lotus in Karnataka was aimed at exposing the vulnerabilities of the Kumaraswamy's coalition government. But when two join hands to oppose one, it is most-certain for one to try and divide the two. This does ring a bell when BJP, in response to this grand meet in Kolkata, termed it as "a rally of self-interest and of conflicting ideologies". It is true that ideologies might not be mirror images but they are aligned in place for a greater good. Terming it as an anti-Modi exercise, BJP national spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy asserted that the party was not scared. Modi was quick to acknowledge the opposition's effort of unity but rest assured of how it was just a simple get-together of those that he had stopped from "looting" the country. He asserted how the grand alliance is not against him but the people of India. Ironically, that is exactly the thought of the grand alliance too. Akhilesh Yadav accused BJP of forming alliances with CBI and ED while they sided with the people of India. People's mandate will surely solve this paradox, validating one side while proving the other wrong in their bold assumption. MK Stalin termed the upcoming elections as a "second fight for independence", vowing to stop this radical Hinduism from spreading. It may even look like one considering the adversities that the country has witnessed in the last four years. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal sent a note of caution on how even the Constitution stood threatened due to the current government, while Andhra CM Chandrababu Naidu called Modi " a publicity PM, not a performance PM" accusing him of failing to deliver promises and further calling EVM a fraud. Farooq Abdullah of National Conference also took up the EVM case, regarding it as a "chor machine" and stressing on the use of Ballot system for sake of transparency. To this, Mamta announced that a panel comprising Abishek Singhvi, Akhilesh Yadav, Satish Mishra and Arvind Kejriwal will look into the malfunctioning of EVMs and meet the Election Commission to propose the use of voter-verified paper audit trails (VVPATs). This united opposition handled the divisionary ploy of no leader repeatedly played by BJP well. The question of who will be PM was brilliantly answered by Mamta as she stressed on how the agenda was "collective leadership" and that the PM would be unanimously decided after the election. For long, BJP has argued that the opposition lacks a leader and hence their constant pursuit of preventing BJP from forming a successive government is futile. However, the vigour of the opposition that the nation witnessed on Saturday can refurbish the political narrative of India, hereafter. While this united front moves forward with their ambitious plan of joining forces to oust the saffron party, it remains to be seen if they actually make a difference or not. Considering how BSP-SP alliance had not invited Congress on the table, regional animosity has not diminished. Yet, the union's effort to overlook personal differences for national interest is laudable.

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