The nascent bonding of the opposition over the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi from parliament, came under an all-out attack today from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who called it a "coming together of the corrupt on one stage". In one of his strongest speeches outside of election campaigns, PM Modi targeted the entire opposition amid 14 parties' move to go to the Supreme Court, alleging misuse of central agencies.
"We have a strong foundation of constitutional institutions. That's why to stop India, constitutional institutions are being attacked," PM Modi said at the BJP headquarters in Delhi.
"Agencies are being attacked when they take action, questions are being raised in courts. Some parties have started 'Bhrashtachari Bachao Abhiyan'," he said in a spin on the "Loktantra Bachao Mashal Shanti March" the Congress attempted today.
The Prime Minister also backed his party's claims to curbing corruption with data.
"Under PMLA (law against money laundering) during the Congress rule, a total of 5,000 crore was confiscated. But under the BJP, we have confiscated about 10,00,000 crore. Twenty thousand economic offenders who have fled, have been caught by us," he said.
For the "first time in seven decades," such action is being taken against the corrupt, the Prime Minister said. "When we will do so much, then some people will be upset and will be angry but the action against corruption won't be stopped because of their (Opposition) false allegations," he added.
Over the last years, the opposition has frequently complained about the Central investigative agencies' action against its leaders. Ahead of the second half of the budget session, they coalesced over the issue.
In their petition to the Supreme Court, the opposition parties have alleged that agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate have only been targeting the political opponents of the BJP. The court will hear the case on April 15.
The parties which have filed the case in the Supreme Court include the Congress, Trinamool Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, Janata Dal-United, Bharat Rashtra Samithi, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray faction), National Conference, Nationalist Congress Party, the Left and the DMK.
Mr Gandhi's two-year jail term from a Gujarat court in a criminal defamation case over PM Modi's surname, and his subsequent disqualification last week, have drawn an unprecedented show of support from the opposition.
Even parties like Trinamool Congress, Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party and Telangana's ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi, which have considerable friction with the Congress, have backed Mr Gandhi and slammed the BJP over what they called an attack on democracy.
The Congress has welcomed the support. In an interview to NDTV, senior party leader Shashi Tharoor called it the "silver lining" of the situation and said it was the "exhibit number one in the law of unintended consequences of the BJP action".