INDIA’s show of strength in Ranchi; Uddhav Thackeray says bloc to win 300 seats | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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INDIA’s show of strength in Ranchi; Uddhav Thackeray says bloc to win 300 seats

Apr 22, 2024 09:50 AM IST

INDIA bloc leaders urged people to end the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s decade-long rule while warning it would “amend the Constitution”

Leaders from over two dozen constituents of the opposition Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), including Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, and Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav, gathered in Ranchi on Sunday for a show of strength. They urged people to end the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s decade-long rule while warning it would “amend the Constitution”.

Leaders join hands at the INDIA bloc's rally in Ranchi on Sunday. (X)
Leaders join hands at the INDIA bloc's rally in Ranchi on Sunday. (X)

The opposition leaders claimed Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his former Jharkhand counterpart, Hemant Soren, were jailed for refusing to bow before the government. Two chairs with their names were left unoccupied on the dais at the “Ulgulan Nyaya Maharally” ahead of ballotting for 14 Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand polls in four phases from May 13.

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who has not attended any joint rallies of the opposition grouping, and Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief Sitaram Yechury skipped the rally, where Kharge lashed out at the BJP. “People respect you [the Dalits, tribals, and the poor] because of the Constitution. Why do you think candidates go to the doorsteps of the poor, tribals, Dalits, and the backward? It is because of Babasaheb’s Constitution that granted you the right to vote. If you forego your vote, you may never get a chance again. Modi wants to change the constitution. Why do you think they want more than 400 seats?”

NDA, INDIA claims

Both the INDIA bloc and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) claimed to have taken the lead after the first phase of Lok Sabha elections across 102 constituencies on Friday. In a post on X, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “First phase, great response! Thank you to all those who have voted today. Getting EXCELLENT feedback from today’s voting. It’s clear that people across India are voting for NDA in record numbers.”

Rahul Gandhi claimed trends “have started coming in regarding the immense support that Congress’s ‘Revolutionary Manifesto’ is receiving. The country will now vote on its issues, vote for its employment, its family, and its future.”

The claims make it clear that the election will be fought as much on social media as on the ground. The battle of perception and cyber optics is only going to become more aggressive during the subsequent phases of the polling.

‘INDIA to win 300 seats’

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday claimed the INDIA bloc will win over 300 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha. Addressing a rally in Maharashtra’s Buldhana for Shiv Sena (UBT) nominee Narendra Khedekar, Thackeray said the BJP will be taught a lesson by the people for calling his party “nakli [fake]” Shiv Sena.”You call my party ‘nakli’ Shiv Sena, but this same Sena will show you its real strength. Is my Shiv Sena like your degree that you call it nakli? The people will show you your place,” he added. Modi called the Thackeray-led party a “nakli” Shiv Sena.

Modi attacks Congress

Without directly referencing Modi’s comments that the Congress was influenced by urban Naxals and leftists, and will take away people’s gold and property to redistribute them, Rahul Gandhi said the BJP leader was nervous after the signs from the first phase of polling. “...the level of Narendra Modi’s lies has fallen so much that out of fear, he now wants to divert the attention of the public.”

Modi questioned who would they give property to. “To those who have more children… to illegal infiltrators… can your hard-earned property be given to infiltrators? Do you agree with the Congress manifesto?” said Modi at an election meeting in Banswara. He added those who left Congress say the party has been taken over by urban Naxals and leftists. “I asked a friend why he said so and he said look at the Congress manifesto… they are promoting Maoist ideology,” he said. Modi quoted former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying Muslims have the first right to the country’s resources.

Congress leader Pawan Khera said the Congress manifesto does not even have any mention of words such as Hindu or Muslim. “We spoke about justice -- justice for youth, tribals, workers, women ... Thanks to the prime minister that people today are reading our manifesto to find out whether we have used any such divisive word...They are realising that Congress used no such words. Neither our manifesto nor our mind, Constitution, society has a place for such words,” Khera said.

Mayawati’s game plan

Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)’s move the contest the Lok Sabha election on its own raised doubts over its prospects. But her candidate selection as per caste equations has apparently forced the SP and BJP to revise their strategies. This could make the contest triangular in Uttar Pradesh. In some seats, BSP candidates are likely to be in direct contest with either the NDA or INDIA bloc candidates. Mayawati has accused the BJP of ignoring the Rajputs and SP of sidelining the Muslims in distribution of tickets. “The BSP has given tickets to both the communities.”

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