Terming the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as a battle of ideologies, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah on Friday beseeched party workers with “folded hands” to help Narendra Modi win a second term as prime minister and pave the way for constructing a “new India” by 2022.
Shah drew a parallel between the coming general election and the third battle of Panipat between the armies of the Maratha empire and Afghan king Ahmed Shah Abdali. He said the Maratha loss in that battle led to 200 years of foreign rule in India. The result of the 2019 battle, he added, would also last for centuries.
Addressing over 12,000 party leaders gathered at the Ramlila Ground here to attend the BJP’s two-day national convention, Shah said the so-called mahagatbandhan (grand alliance) was a “sham” and wanted a majboor (helpless), coalition government in 2019, while the people of the country wanted a mazboot (strong) government, which only Modi could provide. The BJP chief said Modi’s had been a spotless government, and it had reined in inflation and corruption. He said the government was committed to bringing back economic offenders like Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, and Vijay Mallya. It was only a matter of time, Shah said, before the chowkidar (watchman) — a reference to Modi — would catch all of them.
He alleged that the previous Congress government had allowed these men to loot public money, and would have never escaped if the Congress had continued in power. “Modi ji had them by the scruff of their necks which compelled them to leave India, but the government would ensure they return and cough up the money they have looted,” Shah said.
On the Ram temple, he accused the Congress of putting hurdles in the path of its early construction.
He said the BJP wanted a speedy conclusion to the case in the Supreme Court, and was committed to constructing a grand Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya at the earliest.
The convention, which will conclude on Saturday, also became the occasion for the BJP to unveil its 2019 poll slogan of abkibaarphir Modi sarkar, or the ‘Modi government once again’. In 2014, the BJP slogan was abki baar Modi sarkar. There was, however, no reference to the party’s recent poll defeats in the Hindi heartland.
Shah said the next Modi government would fulfil all its remaining promises, including those made to the country’s farmers. He said the BJP’s win in 2019 was important for 500 million poor of the country who suffered neglect during the previous Congress governments and did not have access to basic services.
The BJP national council also approved two resolutions, one that detailed the government’s efforts at improving the lot of the farmers and agriculture sector, terming it a kisanhitaishi, or farmer-friendly, government, and another on its social welfare measures.
The BJP chief congratulated the Modi government for its two “historic” decisions in the last couple of days. He said these decisions were passage of the Bill to provide 10 per cent quota in jobs and education to “upper caste youth” and the relief to small traders and manufacturers by the GST Council, where those with turnovers of up to ~40 lakh were exempt from registration under the GST.
Shah said the battle in 2019 was between BJP, which believed in cultural nationalism, versus all, which comprised a motley crowd of politicians with no policies or programmes, who have come together for self-preservation.
He said Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s allegations on the Rafale fighter jet deal were baseless, as the Supreme Court judgment had shown. He said the Congress leadership was rattled by the revelations of Christian Michel, an intermediary in the Agusta-Westland deal. He also spoke of how the BJP was committed to identifying “infiltrators” in Assam, and repeated that 4 million had been identified.
Shah ridiculed the proposed bua-bhatija alliance, a reference to Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav-led parties coming together in Uttar Pradesh, and said the BJP would improve its tally in the state, winning more seats than what it had won in 2014. In 2014, the BJP and its ally Apna Dal won 73 of UP’s 80 seats.
The two-day convention is the ruling BJP’s last big meeting before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.