Modi's leadership compared to lack of any lead face in the rival camp has been one of the key themes of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance's campaign, with its leaders constantly telling voters that there will be chaos and instability if the opposition comes to power.
Senior BJP leader and Union Minister Rajnath Singh Tuesday dared the opposition to name its prime ministerial candidate if it was sure of victory in the Lok Sabha polls, even as he asserted that his party will win more seats than it did in 2014. With only the last phase of the polls to go for 59 seats, he asked the opposition to not play “hide and seek” with people by not announcing who is its leader. He said voters should not be kept in the dark in a healthy democracy. At a press conference at the BJP headquarters, Singh claimed that a two-thirds majority for the ruling NDA cannot be ruled out as the hope and expectation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2014 polls had turned into confidence and belief this time. The BJP in 2014 had won its maiden majority by winning 282 of 543 Lok Sabha seats.
The former party president also seized on Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s justification for his “neech aadmi” jibe against Modi, saying that no Indian prime minister has been “abused” as much as him, and asked the Congress to respond on its leader’s comments. The Congress had suspended Aiyar after his personal attack Modi, he noted, but the opposition party revoked his suspension later. Noting that the Congress and other opposition parties have been claiming that they will form the government after the polls, he said, “2014 was about Modi versus Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi.
In 2019, it is Modi versus who? That is unknown.” “If they are claiming, they should say who will lead them. People should not be kept in dark in a healthy democracy. The opposition should not play hide and seek,” Singh said. Modi’s leadership compared to lack of any lead face in the rival camp has been one of the key themes of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance’s campaign, with its leaders constantly telling voters that there will be chaos and instability if the opposition comes to power. Singh’s statement marks the BJP’s fresh push to the narrative to woo undecided voters in states like Uttar Pradesh, where it is locked in a keen battle with the SP-BSP alliance, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Punjab among others. Asked about the likely meeting of opposition leaders, he took a swipe at them, saying they are unable to elect a leader as they know that they will not get a majority. The seventh and last phase of the general election is due on May 19.
The counting of votes will occur on May 23. Asked about the SP-BSP alliance, he said his party earlier believed that it will be an “effective” combine but it has fizzled out and that the BJP has set a target of winning 74 of the state’s 80 seats. Singh, who was the BJP chief during the 2014 elections, said people are keen to give Modi another term as they have a sense of satisfaction with his tenure. The three hallmarks of the Modi government’s success were in ‘antyodaya’ (uplift of the last person in queue), and ensuring the country’s development and security, he added. Accusing the Congress of “weakening” India’s battle against terrorism, he slammed the party for coining terms like “Hindu terror and saffron terror” and said all parties should stand together on such an issue. The BJP leader counted it as one of the big successes of the government that price rise was not an issue for the opposition, saying it showed how the government had tamed inflation.
He added in a lighter vein that inflation rate was over 12 per cent in Pakistan, and India did not allow it to cross the Wagah border. To a question about a Time magazine article dubbing Modi “divider in chief”, he said the prime minister wants to take everybody along. In a swipe at the opposition, he said its leaders were “divider in chief” as they seek votes of minorities by creating a sense of fear among them, while his party wants them to have a sense of confidence. He also condemned BSP chief Mayawati for her personal attack on Modi. To a question about her claim that the BJP was a sinking ship and RSS workers were missing from its campaign, he hit back saying it was the BSP that had become a “sinking ship”. Singh asserted that the Hindutva organisation was a “socio-cultural organisation” which doesn’t take part in political campaigns.
Crediting the government for quick and effective implementation of welfare schemes, he said ‘PM Awas Yojna’ (housing scheme for the poor) was started by a Congress government but the NDA dispensation constructed 1.30 crore houses against only 25 lakh under its predecessor. Over 13 crore LPG connections were given in the last five years compared to 12 crore distributed during all previous governments till 2014, Singh said. The rate of highway construction in India is the highest in the world, he said, adding that the Modi government has worked with the motto of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ (With all, development for all). On security front, he said death of civilians and security personnel in Left Wing Extremism-affected areas had come down by more than 60 per cent under the government and terrorism was also largely confined to Kashmir.