The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday celebrated its 38th Foundation Day across the country, exhorting its cadres to ensure that the party retains power at the Centre in 2019. The occasion was also used effectively to attack Opposition parties, especially the Congress, and mocking the efforts to forge a grand alliance for "survival". Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded the "heroic service and sacrifice" of millions of party workers and acknowledged their "efforts" to bolster its reach. "For BJP, the 'Karyakartas' are everything. They are the heart and soul of the party and their sweat has taken the party to new heights. It is due to their efforts that we have the honour to serve people all over India and fulfil their aspirations," Modi said.
"The BJP is the party of a 'New India'. We are privileged to receive the blessings of people of all age groups, across all sections of society. We are a party that believes in India's diversity, our unique culture and, above all, the strengths of 1.25 billion Indians," he added. Modi spoke on a host of topics – from using technology to election strategy. The prime minister also slammed the Opposition and said its "only aim is to defeat Modi".
Modi's "personal connect" with BJP's grassroots functionaries and "keen understanding" of developmental projects were on display during his interaction – through video conferencing – with party workers from five Lok Sabha constituencies and all 734 district presidents on the 'NaMo App'.
NaMo app booths were set up at 20 Assembly segments in the two Lok Sabha constituencies of Delhi. The North East Delhi MP and the president of the state unit of BJP, Manoj Tiwari, and New Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi participated in the event along with senior party leaders and workers. The MPs of the five Lok Sabha constituencies chosen for the interaction with the Prime Minister were Lekhi (New Delhi), Tiwari (North East Delhi), Anurag Thakur (Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh), Poonam Mahajan (North Central Mumbai), and Rajiv Pratap Rudy (Saran in Bihar).
Amit Shah, the party president, launched BJP's election campaign for the 2019 polls in Mumbai, while Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani and Ravi Shankar Prasad exhorted party workers in Lucknow, Kolkata and New Delhi, respectively.
Here are the top 10 highlights of what Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah told BJP workers during their interaction:
1. Narendra Modi says my rivals are turning increasingly violent: Targeting rivals, Modi said their opposition to him is turning "increasingly violent" due to the fact that people born in backward castes are in the country's top positions and also because of their discomfort with the BJP's rising strength. Modi, who comes from Other Backward Classes (OBC), also invoked his humble background and said his rivals were unable to digest that a "son of a poor mother" had become prime minister.
He said while BJP is known for its "win after win", the Congress-led opposition's agenda was "remove Modi, snatch his chair" and its identity is "lie after lie".
"You would have seen that the opposition (to Modi government) is becoming more intense and angrier. It is being seen now that it is turning more violent as well. The reason is not that we have made any mistake. The only reason is that our rivals are unable to digest the BJP's rising strength," he said.
2. No caste and communalism in 'New India', says Modi: The prime minister told BJP workers to redouble their efforts to build a 'New India' by 2022. Modi has spoken about his vision of a "new India' that will provide all families a home and which will be without casteism and communalism.
3. Modi claims BJP was treated like untouchables: BJP leaders were almost forced out in 1977 and it was a case of political untouchability, he said. "People can now see where those are who practised this untouchability and those who were its victims," he said in a reference to the party's rise and the fall of socialist parties and the Congress.
4. Modi says BJP is truly democratic: The prime minister termed the BJP as a party that is "a true believer in democratic ethos". Modi said that in the BJP there are "no divisions, no dynasty politics and no 'I' versus you".
"It is truly democratic and a democratic political party can effectively serve a democratic nation," added Modi.
5. ‘Life incomplete without technology’: Reshma from Mumbai wanted to know about the use of technology, to which the prime minister said: "Life without technology is a life incomplete and we must keep using technology for a better future." He urged BJP workers to get more people to use the BHIM app.
Modi described technology as an effective way to communicate, and communicate the truth. He urged BJP workers to regularly use the various government sites and the Narendra Modi app for latest news about the government's work.
6. Amit Shah compares Opposition to 'snakes, mongooses, dogs, cats: "When there are huge floods all animals like snakes, mongooses, dogs and cats climb together on a single tree trunk for refuge, as there are deep waters below and they are scared of the rising waters," he said.
"The political flood unleashed by (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi has made all these snakes, mongooses, dogs and cats, join together and unitedly contest the 2019 elections against him," he added.
Earlier in his speech, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis compared the Opposition to "wolves" who posed no challenge to Modi.
7. Congress slams Amit Shah for likening Opposition to animals: The Congress's Maharashta unit reacted sharply to Amit Shah's remarks comparing the Opposition parties in the country with animals. In a strong statement, Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam said "the Opposition is an equally strong arm of the legislature as the ruling party and must be treated with the respect it deserved.
"In a democracy, we can't stoop down to the level of being unparliamentary in our language. It (the Opposition) cannot be ridiculed to get cheap air time."8. Amit Shah retracts the dog-cat statement: Barely an hour after comparing Opposition parties with animals, Shah virtually backtracked on his comments. He clarified what he implied was parties with different ideologies joining together to fight the upcoming elections vis-a-vis the BJP and Modi. "What I intended was that the parties with opposing political ideologies which could never come together have united... They include BSP-SP (the Bahujan Samaj Party-Samajwadi Party), TDP-Congress, Congress-Trinamool Congress," Shah told reporters later.
9. BJP will never scrap reservations": Amit Shah said that the Opposition was responsible for the 10 lives lost during the Bharat Bandh protest. "BJP government will neither remove reservation nor will (it) let anyone end it," said Shah. The BJP President also addressed an OBC convention in Karnataka today. On Thursday, Shah had tweeted that PM Modi had met members of Parliament (MPs) belonging to SC communities and assured them that the Government is doing everything to protect the rights and well-being "of our Dalit sisters and brothers".
10. BJP a big platform for national unity, says Prasad: In Delhi, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad hit out at the Congress and other rival political parties opposed to its ideology and said in its journey spanning 38 years, the ruling party has emerged as a "big platform for national unity".
"The BJP is a big platform for national unity. It has one voice, one slogan and one commitment - to make the country a super power. Today, the BJP is a party of all Indians with an all-India presence," Prasad said. Recalling former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's lines that "the cloud will go away, the sun will come up, and lotus will bloom", he said that the BJP at present rules the country with a clear majority and with its allies, it is ruling in 21 of the 29 states.
The Minister took a jibe at Rahul Gandhi, saying if one has to grow in Indian politics, one has to embrace the country's soil, its culture and tradition.
With Agency inputs