By Prarthana Mitra
Setting the tone for the upcoming Assembly and Lok Sabha polls, the BJP held a national executive meeting over the weekend, to discuss their agenda for 2019 elections under the alliterative and allusive campaign “Ajay Bharat Atal BJP”.
At the two-day event, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid homage to the recently deceased former Prime Mnister, laid bare the retinue of successes BJP had achieved in the last four years, and claimed that their journey at the centre has just begun. A political resolution was presented by home minister Rajnath Singh reaffirming the party’s commitment to build “New India by 2022,” according to news reports.
BJP is confident of staging a return to the centre
During the inaugural address at the meeting, party chief Amit Shah confidently proclaimed that BJP was here to stay and rule for the next five decades. Modi himself asserted, “We have started our journey with confidence of victory. We enjoy the confidence of 125 crore people of India.”
Shah also accused the opposition of sponsoring the urban Naxals who are planning to overthrow the government, a concern that was echoed by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who praised Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for taking timely action against the activists allegedly linked with Bhima Koregaon case.
On the opposition
Calling a second term “guaranteed” Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the Prime Minister has vision, passion and imagination, which is what the country needs at this moment. Even after four years in power, Modi’s approval rating is more than 70%, he said, “because he “interacts directly with the people.”
In his concluding speech on Sunday, the Modi left no stone unturned reminding the nation that the dearth of a leader, agenda or strategy has marked Congress’ governance when they were in power, and proves their failure as opposition as well. “Our performance of 48 months will be judged against their performance of 48 years,” the Prime Minister said.
Dismissing the purported third front as a real threat to the ruling party, he called it the last resort for the opposition, a vindication for BJP’s success, and an alliance devoid of clear policy and pure intentions. “People who do not see eye to eye, who cannot walk together, who have no political or ideological understanding, who can’t even tolerate each other are thinking of forging a Mahagathbandhan and embracing each other. It is the biggest vindication of our success,” Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad quoted Modi as saying.
He also reportedly attacked Rahul Gandhi without naming him in his speech, calling him a burden to members of his own party and an inappropriate candidate for PM candidacy, according to Prasad who briefed the media on the speech in the closed-door meeting. BJP spokespersons however side-stepped questions related to the Ram Mandir issue, Rafale deal controversy and the petrol price hike.
The development must go on
Prasad also said that the PM instructed party workers to strengthen the party at booth-level, “win at every booth”, and “unmask” the Congress with facts and logic. He added that the Modi government has lived up to the slogan of bringing ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas‘ to all regardless of state, caste or religion.
On simultaneous polls, Modi is said to have demanded a debate for and against it, among all sections of the society. He also referred to the “one nation, one tax” (Goods and Services Tax) and “one nation, one power grid”, as a precedent for combined polls, but promised to refrain from creating a pressure on it.
Before year-end, India will be going to polls in three key states, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, before the general elections commence next year. Amidst great political and social turmoil, the scales are delicately balanced, in the absence of official confirmation on the Mahagathbandhan. But all those who attended the national executive meet were more than certain that the opposition’s plan to defeat BJP in 2019 is a “day dream”.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.