New Delhi, Feb 12 (IANS) Citing rising unemployment, the widening social and communal rift and curbs on freedom of speech, a score of opposition leaders on Tuesday appealed to the youth to vote out the BJP government in the upcoming general elections "to save the country".
At a youth rally organised by Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal here, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Patidar leader Hardik Patel and Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav, among others slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for its divisive politics and failing to generate employment.
Some of them demanded that the age bar on contesting Assembly and Parliamentary elections be lowered.
Farmers and labourers in the country are distressed due to lower remuneration and the youth due to unemployment but the government is busy in publicity, said Ahmed Patel.
"The BJP government is hiding the unemployment report and manipulating the statistics. We heard the unemployment rate is the highest in the past 40-45 years.
"For Modi, (jobs in) Ola, Uber, and (selling) pakoras is employment. Labourers, farmers are distressed. Young people are committing suicide due to unemployment. However, the government only knows 'eating, meeting, sitting and advertising'," he said.
Yechury said the country wanted a policy and vision and not a leader.
Noting that there are enough resources in the country, he said there was inequality due to "loot", and this can be stopped by the youth in the country.
Accusing the BJP of trying to divide the society on communal lines and destroy the Constitution, Sharad Yadav said: "They are unleashing terror in the name of cow. They are trying to subvert the Constitution. They want to keep caste system alive. The youth has to make efforts to save the country."
Appealing to the youth to protect Muslims and Dalits in the country from the brunt of divisive politics, he urged people not to cast votes on the basis of caste and religion.
Hardik Patel said he was a Hindu but not a RSS Hindu, and he came from the Gujarat of Sardar Valabhbhai Patel, the first Home Minister of India.
"The youth is demanding answers from the government over the work it has done in past five years. We need to save the country from the BJP," he said.
He said he wanted to contest the Gujarat elections but he could not since he was not 25 and demanded a law in this regard.
At this, Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh said that his party will support any such legislation.
In a dig at Modi, he said: "He has been told that he is the most eligible Prime Minister as of yet. He does not want to talk about employment."
Majid Memon of the Nationalist Congress Party, Ghanshyam Tiwari of the Samajwadi Party, Danish Ali of the Janata Dal (Secular), and Jayant Chaudhary of the RLD were also among those who addressed the youth rally.
All the leaders also remembered former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh, the father of RLD chief Ajit Singh, for his contribution to India's development.