Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a scathing attack on opposition parties on Tuesday, saying they lacked leadership, a vision for the country, and a development mission.
Modi urged voters in Odisha to ensure that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wins in both the Lok Sabha elections and assembly polls, which are taking place simultaneously in the state.
“It is for the first time that there is no anti-incumbency against the Union government but the people are angry with the opposition for making false allegations. Opposition parties lack vision for the country, there is no mission for development, and there is no leadership. These parties are working with only one agenda and that is to remove Modi," Prime Minister Modi said at a public meeting in Bhubaneswar.
More than half-a-dozen massive Modi cutouts, about 20 giant LCD screens, and hundreds of party flags dotted a ground in Bhubaneswar as people thronged the city from the afternoon, more than five hours before Modi arrived.
Thousands of people wearing Modi masks, saffron caps, and neck bands saying “I am also Chowkidar" gathered on the roadside and at the rally ground for a glimpse of the Prime Minister. More than 50,000 people gathered to welcome Modi, according to initial police estimates, as he reached the rally ground after a 10km roadshow in Bhubaneswar.
The rally is seen as part of an aggressive campaign by the BJP to strengthen its vote base in coastal Odisha, which will vote over the next three phases of elections. The BJP could only manage to win one seat in Odisha in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls but the party hopes the 2019 elections will change its electoral fortunes in the state, which is ruled by the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) led by chief minister Naveen Patnaik.
Modi said the world has recognized a new India that will target terrorists in their own home. “India will ensure there is peace in this region. I will retaliate if there is a terrorist attack in India. Is our vision correct? Is our direction correct? Should India be scared of threats? The world is standing with us because of our strength," Modi said about the surgical strikes and air strikes carried out by the armed forces.
The Prime Minister also targeted the Congress, saying the party could go to any extent to come to power. The Congress can divide people on the basis of caste, religion and region, he said.
“The Congress had created a situation in the country that people could not talk about their own culture. The Congress conspired to brand Hindus as terrorists. There was a government in the country that did not have faith in its own people, security forces or itself. The Congress government did not take strong action against terrorists," he said.
Several BJP leaders spoke on issues ranging from unemployment, the Balakot strike, migration, the agrarian crisis in the state as well as Patnaik’s alleged lack of proficiency in Odia.