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MUMBAI: NCP chief Sharad Pawar said on Friday that opposition parties will meet in New Delhi on January 29 to mull on the way ahead in the fight against the BJP as they held a march to “save” the Constitution, which they said was under “assault”.
The march, coinciding with the Republic Day which marks the coming into force of the Constitution, brought several opposition leaders, including from the Left, on a common platform in a show of unity against the ruling BJP with just over a year left for the Lok Sabha polls.
Besides Pawar, Sitaram Yechury (CPM) Sharad Yadav (rebel JD-U leader), D Raja (CPI), Hardik Patel (Gujarat’s Patidar leader), Dinesh Trivedi (Trinamool Congress), Sushilkumar Shinde (Congress) and states leaders attended the “Save the Constitution” march.
It started from Oval Maidan near the state secretariat and concluded at the Gateway of India in South Mumbai, covering a distance of around two kilometres.
Addressing the media at the Gateway of India, Pawar said it was a joint decision of “like-minded” parties to come together and rally to “save” the Constitution.
“It would be a great disservice to the nation and the Constitution if we do not raise our voice against this,” Pawar said.
The former Union minister said leaders of opposition parties would hold the next round of deliberations on January 29 in the national capital.
“All the like-minded parties, committed to our cause, will sit together in Delhi and deliberate on the way ahead to save the Constitution,” Pawar said.
NCP leaders Praful Patel and D P Tripathi, former Maharashtra chief minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan and ex-MP Ram Jethmalani were also present.
Yechury claimed the fundamental rights of people, guaranteed by the Constitution, were being “assaulted” by the ruling party.
“All the opposition parties have come together at the Gateway of India, which was once seen as a sign of slavery but is now a sign of freedom to save our democratic institutions, for which we have taken an oath,” he said.
The CPM leader said all political parties, that want to save the nation from being “destroyed” by the BJP, will unite against the saffron outfit.
“Our Constitution ensures equality for all. However, the fundamental rights, guaranteed by the Constitution, are being assaulted,” he said.
Chavan alleged that the government has moved towards “dictatorship”, and all secular people, who have a stake in democracy, should unite to fight against the BJP.
“They are attempting to change the Constitution and this poses a grave threat to the country,” Chavan said.
Ever since a Nitish Kumar-led mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) of RJD, JD(U) and Congress handed down a stunning defeat to BJP in 2015 Bihar Assembly election, a grand alliance is being seen as the only way to stop the saffron party which has won elections in nearly a dozen states since 2014.
However, attempts to forge a grand alliance in Uttar Pradesh fizzled out. The Presidential election also saw fresh moves for opposition unity against the BJP but they too came a cropper.
In July last year, Nitish Kumar-led JD(U)returned to the BJP-led NDA, dealing a blow to efforts to form an anti-BJP front ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.