Thousands trooped today into Patna to participate in the ‘Desh Bachao-bhajpa Bhagao’ rally being organized by the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). Patna had turned green with billboards of the Yadav family which showed Tejashwi Yadav in ‘Baahubali’avatar.
The rally is being seen as a major show of strength and opposition unity by the RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Samajwadi president Akhilesh Yadav shared a platform with Lalu Prasad Yadav.
CPI’s General Secretary S Sudhakar Reddy and Secretary D Raja were present on the dais while JMM chief and former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, and JVM president Babulal Marandi attended the rally. NCP leader and MP Tariq Anwar were also present. Lalu Prasad, his wife, sons Tejashwi and Tej Pratap Yadav, and daughter Misa Bharti, a Rajya Sabha MP were seated in the front row.
Early speakers included Raghubansh Prasad Singh, Abdul Bari Siddiwui and Shivanand Tiwari. Many criticized Nitish Kumar for breaking the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ alliance and on the other hand showered praise on Tejashwi Yadav describing him as the “future leader of Bihar”. No leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was present at the rally.
Ahead of the rally, Lalu lashed out on Nitish Kumar and said that the rally had been planned around 3 months ago to target the NDA government on unemployment, famine, demonetization, and GST. He said that Nitish decided to break ties with the alliance and forestalled their plans.
During the rally, JD-U leader Sharad Yadav pledged to form ‘Mahagathbandhan’ at the national level to defeat and oust the BJP-led NDA in the next general election. He said, “I would like to remind those who broke the Grand Alliance in Bihar that now we will form the Grand Alliance at the national level” without taking names.
“People were cheated. I am sure and certain that I will form a Grand Alliance in the country.” He said he will visit every nook and corner of the country to form a Grand Alliance of 1.25 crore people.
After completely ignoring JD-U’s warning, Sharad Yadav attended the rally and said the formation of a Grand Alliance this time would be different to make a real difference on the ground for the people.
He cautioned people that a nexus of politics and religion was dangerous. “If politics and religion mix, it creates trouble like what happened in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. I will fight till my last breath. I am Member of Parliament for last 43 years but I will not hesitate to fight to protect the country from decisive forces.”
Addressing the crowd there, Akhilesh Yadav said, “Due to the GST and demonetization, so many youths have become unemployed and the BJP needs to give us an account for that.”
Calling it a historic day, Lalu’s son Tejashwi Yadav said, “The ‘countdown’ has begun for Nitish Kumar and Narendra Modi,” adding, “a large crowd gathering for the rally shows that people have united to remove this dictatorship from Bihar.”
His brother, Tej Pratap Yadav, said, “I will not breathe a sigh of relief until we uproot the Nitish government. We have blown the conch shell for Mahabharata.”
Lalu has already said that the rally will prove to be a prelude to the decline of the BJP-led NDA in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Elaborate arrangements were made at Gandhi Maidan.