Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday dismissed the mahagathbandan or grand alliance of Opposition parties as an “unviable and unworkable short-lived combination”.
In a Facebook post titled “Agenda for 2019 – Modi Vs. Chaos”, Jaitley said the United India rally organised by the Trinamool Congress in Kolkata on Saturday was an anti-Narendra Modi rally and more significantly a “non-Rahul Gandhi rally”.
The minister, who is in the United States for medical treatment, wrote: “It is Modi vs. an unviable and an unworkable short-lived combination. Or is it Modi vs. Chaos.”
Jaitley claimed that the Opposition had four candidates – Mamata Banerjee, Rahul Gandhi, Mayawati and K Chandrasekhar Rao – wanting to challenge Modi for the prime minister’s post. All leaders except Banerjee were missing from the event, he said.
“There was not a single speech reflecting the positive idea which the leaders proposed for the future,” Jaitley said. “Negativism was writ large in their approach. The strategy of each of the four contenders is clear...In the Kolkata rally, negativism was the flavour.”
Jaitley recalled the 1971 General Elections, when the Opposition had formed a grand alliance against Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. “The results were announced, India rejected negativism,” he said.
“Aspirational society never commits a collective suicide. They do not suffer from Lemming Syndrome,” Jaitley said, referring to a phenomenon where people imitate others’ behaviour.
Jaitley said the Opposition had a two-fold strategy. “Firstly, negative anti-Modi agenda and secondly, to combine as many political groups together so as to take the best advantage of the electoral arithmetic.”
Jaitley claimed that Opposition parties were coming together because they fear Modi’s popularity and comeback. “The Opposition is making Prime Minister Modi’s continuation in office as a key political issue,” Jaitley said. “We in BJP welcome this agenda being set by the Opposition.”