Kolkata: The issue of who would be the prime ministerial candidate of the anti-BJP political parties continued to remain a big question mark despite the approaching Lok Sabha elections, though 23 of the outfits came together at a mega rally here on Saturday, giving a call to defeat Centre's ruling Narendra Modi-led BJP.
While none of the leaders -- many of whom themselves harbour prime ministerial ambition -- present on the stage were in any position to give an emphatic answer, those who dwelt on the subject mostly made wishy-washy comments.
West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, who organised the well attended rally at the historic Brigade Parade Ground, called for a "collective leadership".
Banerjee, who was the last speaker at the 'United India Rally', said everyone is a leader in the proposed alliance, and a "collective decision" will be taken after the polls once the BJP was defeated.
"There is no need to worry about who will be the Prime Minister. We will take a collective decision on that after the election. Now there is no question of holding discussions on that. Now, we must focus on removing the BJP from power," she said
The Trinamool Congress leaders had been unabashedly stating in the run up to the rally that it would propel Banerjee to the centre-stage of Indian politics so that she could emerge as the face of the opposition if the Modi-led BJP was defeated at the hustings and there was a hung parliament.
Samajwadi Party Chief Akhilesh Yadav said: "Whoever people decide, will become prime minister."
"They (BJP) say look how many prime ministerial aspirants the opposition has. At times, they say we have lot of grooms. I tell them, we will see to it," Yadav told the rally.
Telugu Desam chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu said the entire country's mood is to have a new Prime Minister in 2019, but shied away from going into the issue further.
Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Admi Party (AAP) national convenor Arvind Kejriwal came up with a comment that the focus of the coming elections was removal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, rather than electing a prime minister.
"Many people ask me who will become the Prime Minister, if not Modi. I want to tell you all, the 2019 elections will be not to elect a Prime Minister, but to remove the Modi-Shah (BJP president Amit Shah) regime," the AAP supremo said.
National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, on the other hand, urged the leaders opposed to the saffron party not to eye the prime minister's post.
"Now it is your duty, and our duty that we should be together and not think that I will become prime minister. It will be seen later who will become prime minister. First we have to fight the election, fight it together and strongly that is the way to move forward."
Veteran political leader and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar, considered one of the prime ministerial aspirants, however, said he has not come to the rally for any position.
"We have not come to the united opposition rally for any ministerial positions. We all have come here to bring change in the nation and protect the people from atrocities of the BJP regime," he said.
Besides, apart from those on the stage, there were several leaders in the anti-saffron camp who skipped the rally.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi, BSP supremo Mayawati and TRS chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao fall in that category.
After the rally, the issue of the prime ministerial candidate became the main weapon for the BJP to attack the opposition parties.
"The issue of 'mahagathbandhan' is a bogey and it cannot defeat the BJP because those who are on the dais have dreams to be the Prime Minister. Those dreams will be left unfulfilled," BJP national spokesperson Syed Shahnawaz Hussain said.