Congress leader Rahul Gandhi described electoral bonds as an extortion system established by the BJP government. He alleged, “Government contracts were awarded to companies, and they paid installments to the BJP. The ED and CBI were utilised for extortion, and shell companies were established to buy bonds. Companies that paid bribes were awarded work contracts.”

Gandhi was addressing a public rally at Mumbai’s iconic Shivaji Park while concluding his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra on Sunday. The Yatra, which was flagged off from Imphal on January 14, traversed over 100 Lok Sabha constituencies in 15 states. The meeting was attended by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray, PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, former Jammu and Kashmir CM Farooq Abdullah, AAP Minister in Delhi Saurabh Bharadwaj, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, and other prominent leaders of the INDIA alliance.

Gandhi said that the fight of the INDIA alliance was not against PM Modi but against the “power” that is controlling India through PM Modi. Gandhi criticised the Election Commission, alleging that it was unwilling to tally votes from paper slips along with Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) votes because Prime Minister Modi would not win without EVMs.

Show of strength

INDIA alliance leaders put up a show of strength in Mumbai a day after the EC announced the election schedule.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin accused the BJP of engaging in “white-collar” corruption through electoral bonds. He questioned whether a Prime Minister associated with such corruption could talk about fighting against it. Stalin further criticised PM Modi for what he called fake propaganda.

RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav stated that the fight was not against individuals — Narendra Modi or Amit Shah — but against an ideology that seeks to divide India and propagate falsehoods. He expressed confidence in surprising results in Bihar in the upcoming elections.

NCP President Sharad Pawar emphasised that the united power of the INDIA alliance would ensure the BJP’s defeat. Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray remarked that those aligning with the BJP out of fear of probe agencies did not represent the masses, asserting that the people were with the INDIA alliance.

PDP leader and former Jammu and Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti warned against the BJP’s alleged attempts to undermine constitutional principles in India, urging voters to support the alliance to protect the constitution. Kalpana, the wife of former Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren, highlighted the unity maintained by alliance partners in Jharkhand despite the BJP’s efforts to destabilise the government.