The divide in the Opposition ranks notwithstanding, Rahul Gandhi and Mamata Banerjee launched a frontal assault Tuesday on Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the West Bengal Chief Minister demanding that the Prime Minister and his government resign if the cash crunch does not ease after December 30, the 50-day deadline he set following the demonetisation announcement. The Congress vice president reluctantly agreed with Banerjee’s demand.
At a joint press conference of eight parties — Congress, TMC, DMK, RJD, JD(S), JMM, IUML, AIUDF — Rahul Gandhi repeated his charges against the Prime Minister, raking up the issue of the purported Sahara and Birla group papers, but others on the dais, including Banerjee, remained silent.
Rahul played down cracks in the Opposition unity, saying parties have “local compulsions”. He and Banerjee said a common minimum agenda was being worked out to bring the entire Opposition on one platform — the JD(U), NCP and Left parties stayed away from the press conference.
The BJP hit back almost immediately, calling the joint press conference the “flop show” of Rahul and said the “bubble of Opposition unity” had burst before it could float. Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said it was becoming increasingly clear that Rahul lacked “maturity and gravitas” and would soon be left alone to “hurl abuses without substance”.
Prasad told a press conference that the Opposition event was “laughable” since “those behind scams” like 2G spectrum, Saradha chit fund and coal block allocations had come together to attack the Prime Minister. “We all saw Rahul Gandhi’s flop show today. Those who claimed about Opposition unity could merely bring together eight of the 16 parties. Soon they will be reduced to four. Then Rahul Gandhi will be left on his own… to hurl abuses without substance. The bubble of Opposition unity has burst before it could take off,” he said.