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Eyeing 2019 polls, Opposition holds 'Save Constitution' march in Mumbai; BJP counters it with 'Tiranga Yatra'

The opposition today held a 'Save Constitution' march in Mumbai, which the BJP countered with 'Tiranga Yatra.'   

Eyeing 2019 polls, Opposition holds 'Save Constitution' march in Mumbai; BJP counters it with 'Tiranga Yatra'

MUMBAI: In yet another indication of serious efforts being made to forge a formidable anti-Narendra Modi alliance ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, top Opposition leaders met here on Friday and took out a silent 'Save the Constitution' march.

The galaxy of opposition leaders who attended the silent march included Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan, Janata Dal-United breakaway faction's leader Sharad Yadav, Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI General Secretary D Raja, and rally convenor and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader Raju Shetti.

Ahead of the march, the leaders held a meeting at the official residence of the leader of opposition in Maharashtra Assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, in south Mumbai.

Also present were Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Tripathi, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti chief Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakore, Tushar Gandhi, great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, activist-journalist Jatin Desai, Leader of Opposition in the Council Dhananjay Munde (NCP), Ajit Pawar, Manikrao Thakre, ex-BJP MP Nana Patole, Supriya Pawar, Jitendra Awhad, Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam and Sachin Sawant were also present.

"It was a silent and symbolic procession to `Save the Constitution`. There were no banners, no speeches, no slogans of any kind," Shetti said later.

The opposition's `Save Constitution` rally, coming on the day independent India`s Constitution was adopted, was launched from the statue of its chief architect B.R. Ambedkar near Churchgate and terminated at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj`s statue near the Gateway of India in the afternoon, with around 5,000 people joining it.

However, in a bid to counter the opposition procession, the Maharashtra unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party took out a 'Tiranga Yatra` (Tricolour March) in Mumbai and all other districts of the state.

Top BJP leaders, including state unit President Raosaheb Patil-Danve, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Mumbai party chief Ashish Shelar and others visited the Ambedkar memorial Chaityabhoomi in Dadar and offered tributes.

Later, addressing a BJP rally at the Kamgar Maidan, Fadnavis attacked the opposition for their procession in south Mumbai.

"The Constitution is intact. What they held today was a `Save Party` rally and not `Save Constitution` rally," Fadnavis said.

He said when they (Congress-NCP) were in power, they indulged in rampant corruption and didn`t remember the Constitution.

"The Constitution is our mother," Fadnavis said amid applause at the `Tiranga Yatra` in which several Ministers, parliamentarians and legislators participated.

The `Save Constitution` programme is viewed as an attempt to consolidate the anti-BJP forces by a combined opposition of Leftists, centrists and Dalit parties and present a united challenge in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Later this afternoon, it transpired that Mumbai Police was planning action against the opposition parties for organising the `Save Constitution` march "without permission".

(With IANS inputs)