Surprise visit by the NDA ally Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut and support of entire opposition leaders to Andra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who was on a day-long hunger strike against Narendra Modi government at the Andhra Bhavan in the national capital, has given the anti-BJP forces a joint platform to unite against the ruling dispensation.
While Congress president Rahul Gandhi was the first prominent leader to visit the agitating Chief Minister, who demanded granting of Special Category Status, an assurance given to the state during the bifurcation, the protest venue witnessed a sea of leaders from opposition block during the day.
Among the visitors were former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nah from Congress, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’ Brien, DMK’s leader T Siva, Loktantrik Janata Dal Sharad Yadav, National Conference Leader Farooq Abdullah, Congress’s Digvijay Singh and Jairam Ramesh.
Considering the continuous feud between the BJP and the Sena in Maharashtra, the ‘unexpected’ visit by Mr Raut before the Lok Sabha polls is significant as both the parties are at loggerheads over the seat allocation.
Addressing the gathering, the Shiv Sena leader said he was deputed by party chief Uddhav Thackeray to convey support to Mr Naidu in his fight for the state.
During his visit, Mr Kejriwal accused Mr Modi of treating states ruled by opposition parties with neglect and stated that ‘as if he is the Prime Minister of Pakistan not India’.
"I want to tell Mr Modi that he is not the Prime Minister of the BJP alone but of the entire country. (But) The way he treats state governments rued by non-BJP parties looks as if he is the Prime Minister of Pakistan, not India”, the Delhi Chief Minister.
Referring to the West Bengal stand-off between the Mamata Banerjee government and the CBI, Mr Kejriwal said “Mr Modi sent 40 CBI officers to arrest Kolkata's Police Commissioner to send a message to the police and bureaucracy in all states that they should not be loyal to state governments but to the centre,"
Earlier in the day, Mr Gandhi made a scathing attack against the Prime Minister and said he ‘facilitated the Rafale loot’ to help Anil Ambani.
“I stand with the people of Andhra Pradesh. What kind of a Prime Minister is he? He did not fulfill the commitment made to the people of Andhra Pradesh. Mr Modi, tells a lie wherever he goes. He told people of Andhra Pradesh that he will give Special Category Status, he goes to North East and he tells a lie there, he goes to Maharashtra, he tells a lie there. Mr Modi has absolutely got no credibility left”, he had said.
Former Prime Minister Dr Singh also criticised the Modi government and said “the promises, especially the Special Category Status for Andhra Pradesh, that have been made by government of India at the time of reorganisation of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, must be granted”.
While addressing the gathering, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister lashed out at the Prime Minister and ‘warned’ him over the personal attacks against him.
"I am warning you on behalf of five crore people. Don't make personal attacks against me and my people. It is unwarranted. I am just doing my duty as the head of my state. We are only demanding what we were promised”, said Mr Naidu.
He also criticised that Mr Modi was not following ‘raja dharma’ when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat during the Gujarat riot in 2002 and now in the case of Andhra Pradesh.