In the concluding session of its two-day National Executive meeting on Sunday, the two topmost leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah — made light of the challenge posed by the Opposition’s mahagatbandhan. BJP chief Shah spoke of a 50-year unbroken reign for the BJP. “We will win the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, and there would be none who can oust us for the next 50 years,” Shah told his party’s National Executive.
Delivering the concluding speech of the event, the PM gave the slogan of Ajeya Bharat, Atal Bhajapa (victorious India, steadfast BJP) to his party for the 2019 polls, and asked party workers to win each and every polling booth.
In the morning, the National Executive passed a political resolution that presented the party’s agenda of building a New India by 2022 that would be free of casteism, corruption, communalism, and terrorism. It said the Opposition had no agenda other than ‘Modi roko’.
Unlike previous national executives, there was no separate economic resolution. When asked, senior BJP leader and Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who briefed the media, defended the omission by pointing out that the political resolution has a substantive section on economic issues.
However, neither the political resolution nor the speeches of the PM, Shah, had any reference to increasing prices of petrol and diesel, the Rafale issue, the decline in the value of the rupee or the recent Reserve Bank of India annual report that revealed that 99.3 per cent of demonetised currency returned to the banks. On fuel prices, senior leader Prakash Javadekar said the Modi government has kept inflation to less than 5 per cent, compared to the runaway double-digit inflation during 10-years of United Progressive Alliance. On the Rafale deal, Javadekar said there was little cause for worry since there was “no (Ottavio) Quattrocchi” in the deal.
In a reference to the Nehru-Gandhi family of the Congress party, Modi said the alternative before people was his 48-month rule versus that of 48 years of one family. The PM accused the Opposition, particularly the Congress, of fighting the electoral battle based on “lies and falsehood”, which should be refuted strongly by spreading the message of his government’s performance.
According to senior party leader Prasad, who briefed the media later, Shah also highlighted how Modi has changed the politics of the country to one that is performance-oriented, and stressed how he has never lost an election ever since becoming the chief minister in 2001.
Neither of the two top leaders nor the resolution had any reference to the recent protests by upper-caste groups. The party decided to remain silent on the issue, with Prasad stating the BJP’s ideology was of looking at society as a composite whole.
In his speech, the PM said the BJP has ruled Gujarat for 31 years, and it was inspired by a sense of service and development, and not arrogance. He said the party has remained steadfast in its principles, but its strategy is dynamic. Modi said an effective Opposition is necessary for a healthy democracy, but does not see any challenge for 2019.
The PM said today’s Opposition was a failure in government, and is a failure in Opposition as well. He suggested that one family served none but itself in its 48-year rule. Modi said the Congress was fighting the electoral battle based on lies, and asked party workers to defeat this by presenting facts to the people. Modi said the Congress had given the slogan of ‘garibi hatao’, or poverty alleviation, but ended up nationalising coal mines and banks, but some years later admitted its mistake and started walking on the path of reform. “We need to expose Congress party’s lies,” Modi told party leaders.