When BJP rebels Shatrughan Sinha, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie addressed a gathering of judges, lawyers, politicians and activists at Mumbai's Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, guess what the topic of discussion was. The deliberated on how to defeat the Modi-Shah combine in 2019.
Former minister in the Vajpayee government Arun Shourie told the gathering on Friday, "2019 is the last chance to reverse what is happening. If you do not turn the rails now then forget about democracy after that because what you have seen so far is a trailer."
Arun Shourie also asked opposition leaders to keep their egos aside and fight the Modi-Shah duo as one unit. They discussed numbers and consolidation of opposition votes at the event organised by the Rashtriya Manch in Mumbai, which was titled "Save Democracy, Save Constitution".
"Leaders should not bother about prestige. Arvind Kejriwal says Rahul Gandhi should call me, Rahul Gandhi says why should I call? In this you miss opportunities. PM Modi at the height of his popularity got only 31 per cent vote share. If you come together, you have 69 per cent votes. So don't divide votes. Fight together," Mr Shourie added.
"There is an environment of fear. Justice Thipsay said laywers are scared. Journalists are scared. Parliamentarians are scared and the public is scared. But I know after this meeting when we go home we will be fearless," former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said.
Shatrughan Sinha, who once again dared the BJP to remove him from the party, said, "I can't be singing praises all the time, I can't say nice things and flatter them all the time. Because before I belong to the BJP, I belong to the Bharatiya janta (citizens)."
While Yashwant Sinha cautioned against a PM Modi vs one person approach like a presidential election, opposition representatives said they will convey these sentiments to their leaders.
Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi said, "This is not a question of who is taking the lead. The lead has already been taken by the people of India. I don't think there is any competition. If there is, that is to save democracy and constitution."
"The Deputy Election Chairman is not a test case for 2019 because it was a JD(U) candidate. In 2019, Modi will be defeated across the country and you will see this happen," Aam Aadmi Party's Sanjay Singh said.
"In Uttar Pradesh we have shown that if people come together and political parties respond to that voice of people coming together, BJP gets uprooted," Samajwadi Party spokesperson Ghanshyam Tiwari said.
BJP supporters, however, brushed off the gathering as a non-issue. "From 2014, the opposition has been hiring different set of consultants. I don't think another set of consultants who did not have much of a role in the BJP will help the opposition," Sandeep Singh, author and founder of Swastik, told NDTV.