BJP's estranged ally Shiv Sena and opposition Congress Monday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ridiculing opposition's show of unity last week, claiming it has given him the "shivers" and injected some kind of "fear" ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
As the Sena and the Congress took a swipe at the prime minister, senior BJP leader and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said any opposition grouping will be an unviable and an unworkable short-lived combination and asked, "Is it Modi vs Chaos?
Jaitley also said its going to be advantage BJP in the general elections as an aspirational society will not commit a "collective suicide" by voting for a short-lived political alliance.
Modi Sunday dismissed the "mahagathbandhan" (grand alliance) of opposition parties, alleging it was an alliance of "corruption, negativity and instability" and one created by those affected by his fight against graft.
Referring to the opposition's show of unity at a rally organised by TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata on Saturday, the Sena, in an editorial in party mouthpiece 'Saamna', asked Modi not to live in an illusion that his government is "immortal".
The Sena said the Trinamool Congress(TMC) supremo was taking the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah combine head-on.
"Most of the leaders who attended the rally, including Banerjee, were once allies of the BJP under Atal Bihari Vajpayee's leadership and there is no need to ridicule them. Modi's government is not an enemy of the country but he should not live in an illusion that his government is 'amar' (immortal)," the it added.
The Sena said recently the prime minister gave a speech while boarding a tank (at L&T's gun-making facility in Gujarat). "Why did he (then) get shivers from the coming together of 22 opposition parties," it wondered.
Distancing itself from the coming together of several regional parties on one platform, the Sena, an ally of the BJP at the Centre and in Maharashtra, however, defended their right to criticise the party in power.
Banerjee had invited Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to the rally, but the Shiv Sena was the first to sound the poll bugle from its "own field" Maharashtra, the editorial said.
"All those present on Banerjee's platform were secularists. The Sena is not pseudo-secularist. Our ideology is 'hindutva' and we are firm on our stand on the issues of Ram temple and uniform civil code. The Kolkata rally could not have digested Shiv Sena's stand," it added.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said Modi's recent remarks about the opposition's 'mahagathbandhan' and his body language "proved" he was "afraid" of its unity.
"As you have noticed, the PM has now started talking about the 'mahagathbandhan' in his speeches. It shows that the alliance has injected some kind of fear in his mind. Even his body language proves he is now scared of opposition unity" Patel told reporters in Ahmedabad.
Addressing Congress workers, Patel said the ruling party leaders used to claim that they would remain in power for 50 years but now they "fear" if they lose the upcomingl Lok Sabha polls they might not return to power for 200 years.
"With the evolution of Opposition Unity their body language has changed. Fear is visible. Earlier they used to say that BJP will remain in power for 50 years. Now they are saying if they lose they won't come back in power for 200 years," Patel said on Twitter.
Patel said the coming together of opposition parties is guided by a "common objective" to defend and protect the Constitution.
"Only those who have undermined and tried to sabotage the Constitution seem to be extremely perturbed by Opposition unity."
The BJP had described the Kolkata rally as a gathering of "opportunist elements" with the sole agenda of removing Modi without any roadmap for the country's future.
Dismissing the opposition Mahagathbandhan' as unviable and unworkable, Jaitley said India has moved ahead of 1971 and the aspirational society will not commit a "collective suicide" in the upcoming general elections.
The two-fold strategy of the opposition parties for the general elections is to pursue anti-Modi agenda and take advantage of the electoral arithmetic, he said in a Facebook post titled 'Agenda for 2019 - Modi Vs Chaos'.
"Will 2019 be a replica of 1971? It is Modi vs an unviable and an unworkable short-lived combination. OR is it Modi vs Chaos, Jaitley wondered.
The minister is currently in the US for a medical check up.
Recalling the 1971 General Elections, Jaitley said the opposition had formed a 'Grand Alliance' or the 'Mahagathbandhan' teaming up against the then prime minister Indira Gandhi.
"We had powerful leaders and a head-start in the media. Additionally, the Congress had split into two.... The results were announced, India rejected negativism. The India of 2019 has moved way ahead of India of 1971. Aspirational society never commit a collective suicide. They do not suffer from a Lemming Syndrome," Jaitley said.
Lemming Syndrome refers to a phenomenon wherein crowds of people, imitate actions of each other just because they see majority of their peers doing it.
Stating that every General Election has its own script that is dictated by the prevailing political environment, Jaitley said for the 2019 political battle, India's opposition has a two-fold strategy, firstly, negative anti-Modi agenda and secondly, random political grouping to gain from the electoral arithmetic.
He said Opposition politics has thrown up four desirous Prime Ministers wishing to challenge Modi.
"It is obvious that the level of satisfaction with PM Sh @narendramodi ji is very high. If that weren't so, what was the need for multiple disparate forces to come together against him? It is only the fear of his popularity & a certain comeback that is bringing them together," Jaitley said.
Jaitley said the opposition rally in Kolkata became significantly "a non-Rahul Gandhi rally" by his conspicuous absence.
"All four ambitious politicians pursue fanciful strategies to replace PM @narendramodi, however, Congress can at best dream only to be a pillion rider," he noted.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)