Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the proposed grand opposition alliance is merely a "grand race" by his rivals to be the prime minister and accused the Congress of working to discredit every institution due to its "culture of Emergency".
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the proposed grand opposition alliance is merely a “grand race” by his rivals to be the prime minister and accused the Congress of working to discredit every institution due to its “culture of Emergency”. In a wide-ranging interview to Swarajya magazine, he also touched on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and security concerns about his safety, saying that being among people gives him a lot of strength as he was not a ‘Shahenshah’ who is unaffected by people’s warmth. Targeting opposition parties, he said they are driven by “personal survival and power politics” and they have no agenda except to remove him with “hatred for Modi” being their “sole gluing force”.
The Congress, he said, had graduated from “Modi hatred” to “India hatred”, accusing the opposition party of going on an overdrive to discredit every possible institution in the last seven to eight years. Expressing confidence that people will vote the BJP back to power in the next Lok Sabha elections, he said the Congress is fighting a battle for its survival (“astitva ki ladai”) and is now running from pillar to post looking for allies.
Ridiculing the Congress amid its efforts to stitch together an alliance against the BJP, he said the Rahul Gandhi-led party is now like a regional party and cannot become a cementing force or anchor for any combine of opposition parties.
The prime minister dubbed the next election a choice between governance and development on one side and chaos on the other as he cited the example of Karnataka, where the Congress-JD(S) alliance “stole the mandate” to form government with “development taking a back seat”.
“In any election, a non-ideological and opportunist coalition is the best guarantee for chaos,” he said, describing Karnataka as “a trailer of what is possibly in store”. You would expect ministers meeting each other to solve development issues but in Karnataka they meet only to quell infighting, he said. The BJP, he said, contests elections on the issues of development and good governance and the mandates it has received in state after state are historic.
“Hence, we are confident that people will repose their trust in us. They (opposition) have no agenda except to remove Modi. Hatred for Modi is the sole gluing force for the opposition,” he said. Modi rejected the comparison of an opposition alliance with a similar alliance of the then opposition in the 1977 and 1989 elections. While the common motive in 1977 was to protect democracy following the Emergency, the opposition joined hands 12 years later after the “record-breaking corruption” of Bofors had hurt the entire nation, he said.
“Today, these alliances are not motivated by national good but they are about personal survival and power politics. They have no agenda except to remove Modi,” he said. The entire focus in the opposition is on power politics with Rahul Gandhi saying he is ready to be prime minister while TMC chief Mamata Banerjee is also eying the top post but the Left has a “problem” with her, the prime minister said.
The Samajwadi Party, he added, thinks its leader more than anyone else deserves to be prime minister. He also rejected the criticism that freedom of expression and sanctity of institutions are shrinking under the BJP, saying it is absurd and incorrect and that it is not his party’s value system at all.
“In fact, some of our leaders, including sitting Cabinet ministers, ministers in various states, went to jail during the Emergency and withstood lathis. This shows how much we cherish democratic values and freedom. Hence, I find such a discourse about damage to institutions under the BJP absurd and incorrect. That is not our value system at all,” he said. It is the Congress whose culture is the “culture of the Emergency”, he said.
Modi said Congress leaders “victimised” the then Army Chief and the CAG for not toeing their party’s line when it was in power. “In opposition, they mocked the Indian Army for the surgical strikes, they find fault with our other security forces. Now they also attack reputed rating agencies that are optimistic about India, they discredit the RBI… Now they are after the courts,” he said.
“Their onslaught on the election process of India is alarming. Instead of introspecting why in state after state people are rejecting them, the Congress is finding fault in the poll process. What can one say to such a thought process,” he asked. “Our institutions and our democracy are vibrant as always. India’s democratic ethos cannot be trampled over,” he asserted.
It is the Congress, he said, which that has subverted our democracy, judiciary and media time and again. Modi also praised the social media, saying it has made our discourse a lot more democratic. On Jammu and Kashmir, he said the Centre’s goal in the state is “good governance, development, responsibility and accountability”.
“Recurrent terror attacks” that were common under the UPA rule are now history, Modi asserted. The state has been under Governor’s rule since June 20. To a question on whether the BJP’s allies are on the same page with it and if the NDA is weaker today, Modi asserted that his party views the alliance not as a compulsion but as an article of faith.