Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday took an apparent jibe at the Opposition by saying that they were a group who are angry with him because he stopped several leaders from “looting India”.

Modi’s comments were made on a day that Trinamool Congress President and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hosted a meeting with several leaders Opposition parties in attendance. Banerjee’s United India rally is being seen as an effort to unite the Opposition against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Modi went on a tirade against the purported alliance between Opposition parties known as the “mahagathbandhan” or “grand alliance” during his address in Dadra and Nagar Haveli’s Silvassa. “My actions against corruption made some people angry as I prevented them from looting public money,” Modi said. “They have formed the mahagathbandhan.”

“In Bengal, the BJP has only one MLA but they are so afraid of us that they are saying ‘bachao’ [save us],” the prime minister said. “When those involved in suffocating democracy talk of saving it, then people will say ‘wah kya baat hai’.”

Modi further said: “They are troubled as to why Modi is taking stringent action against corruption. Should I not fight against corruption....they are troubled as to why Modi has banished the middlemen from the corridors of power.”

He said the leaders had come together out of fear. Their politics is centred around hatred for Modi, the prime minister said, adding that the Opposition will never be able to win the hearts of the people.

Earlier on Saturday, Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy dismissed the rally in Kolkata as an “exercise by an anti-Modi front”. BJP leader Mukul Roy, who had quit the TMC to join the saffron party in 2017, described the Opposition meeting as a circus. “West Bengal is again witnessing a circus under Mamata Banerjee’s rule similar to what Jyoti Basu had started,” Roy tweeted. “Various jokers and lying artists coming together to destroy India again.”

He said all those parties who used to once abuse the Congress, have now come together.

The rally has several major leaders in attendance including Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam President MK Stalin and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and Lalu Prasad Yadav’s son Tejashwi Yadav.