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Business News/ Politics / News/  From two seats in 1984 to 303 in 2019…: PM Modi on BJP's growth trajectory in last 40 years

From two seats in 1984 to 303 in 2019…: PM Modi on BJP's growth trajectory in last 40 years

His government’s performance over 10 years will be the decisive factor in Verdict 2024, says Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets the gathering during an election meeting, in Bhubaneswar on Friday. (ANI)Premium
Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets the gathering during an election meeting, in Bhubaneswar on Friday. (ANI)

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is cruising to a third consecutive term despite not doling out populist measures in the interim budget because the country has seen true progress and development and is voting on the basis of the difference in their lives, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday, accusing the Opposition of introducing divisive agenda into the poll campaign.

In an interview with R Sukumar, Shishir Gupta and Sunetra Choudhury, Modi dismissed the possibility of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers getting complacent, accused the Congress of trying to barter reservation benefits away, expressed confidence about doing well in south India and rejected the possibility of joint Opposition candidates doing well.

“People realise that we have worked hard for them in the last 10 years. People have seen the difference in their lives. Due to our track record, we did not need any populist measures going into the elections. People also see this as a sign of our government’s earnest behaviour," said Modi, responding to a question about the government’s strategy of not delivering any poll sops in the interim budget earlier this year. The government had received praise for focussing on fiscal consolidation and not on election-based announcements.

Modi said the people of India saw the “speed and scale" with which the NDA delivered promises, underlining its achievements in boosting the economy, battling inflation, expanding the number of airports and highways, augmenting health care and pushing online payments.

“In these 10 years, we’ve shown the world that true progress is about empowering every citizen and giving them the tools they need to succeed. Our focus has been on empowering the poor, creating opportunities for them to thrive," he said.

Modi contrasted this with what he called the Opposition’s agenda of “snatching reservation or people’s wealth, or ensure faith-based reservations".

“Our policies are centered around uplifting the poor, ensuring that they’re at the heart of everything we do… All they want is ‘Modi Hatao [remove Modi]’. People will not fall for such regressive and communal politics," he said.

Modi’s remarks came at the halfway mark in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, with 283 of 543 seats having voted, and three of the seven phases completed. The 73-year-old is seeking a third consecutive term in power, something that would make him only the second PM after Jawaharlal Nehru to achieve. He is up against a multi-party Opposition coalition named the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA).

Modi pointed to the growth trajectory of the BJP — two seats in 1984 to 303 in 2019 — to say that any speculation of complacency in the party was unthinkable.

“We did not build the party thinking that we have won one election and now, we can relax till the next election. We treated every win as our duty to live up to the trust people bestowed on us. Our karyakartas [workers] are always in mission mode to serve the person at the last mile. Our vision is crystal clear i.e. 24x7 for 2047," he said.

“Therefore, there is hardly any scope for complacency within the BJP. We are here to fulfil the vision of Viksit Bharat by 2047," he added, referring to his developed India poll pitch.

Modi’s comments come at a particularly intense point in the campaign.

Over the past two weeks, the PM has upped his aggression on the campaign trail, first accusing the Congress of trying to siphon away reservations meant for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes, to give them to Muslims, then alleging the opposition party wanted to redistribute wealth to Muslims, pointing to a 2006 speech by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the first right over the country’s resources should go to the minorities. To be sure, the Congress has said that the BJP is misrepresenting Singh’s remark, and that the PM had spoken of the need to empower the marginalised, including the scheduled castes, the scheduled tribes and Muslims.

“If the Congress party’s agenda is to take away the reservation of SC, ST and OBCs, and give it to their vote banks unconstitutionally, on the basis of religion, then it will have to be questioned. In such a situation, being silent would be incorrect. It is the Congress party that is bringing religion and divisive issues agendas into the picture," he said.

“The people of these communities are raising questions about their dangerous agenda and as a party that represents the people’s aspirations, we will also reflect their concerns. These are important questions that need to be answered by the Congress," he added.

The campaign has also been roiled by mass sexual assault and rape allegations against Janata Dal Secular leader Prajwal Revanna. Modi referred to that controversy in his interview.

“I firmly believe that every Indian citizen is equal in the eyes of the law. Be it Sandeshkhali or Karnataka, whoever committed such heinous acts, whether they belong to any party, must face severe consequences, must face the strictest punishment. And it’s the duty of the state government to ensure law and order, whichever part of India it is," he said, also pointing to allegations of land grab, exploitation and sexual abuse against local Trinamool Congress leaders in West Bengal. In recent weeks, reports have emerged that two women have recanted their complaints, blaming local BJP leaders of manipulating their statements.

He rejected allegations that the BJP was not running a positive campaign.

“If you observe our party’s manifesto or the speeches of our leaders, it is clear that we are the only party speaking about creating a developed India, about a net-zero future, about becoming the third largest economy, etc," he said.

Modi appeared confident of doing well in southern India, a region where the BJP has struggled to find a footing outside Karnataka.

“Our connection with the people of south India, including Tamil Nadu and Kerala, is not new. We’ve dedicated ourselves to serving the people there, regardless of whether we are in government or not… People are tired of the corruption, appeasement, and family-first politics of the INDI Alliance seen in various southern states," he said.

“I see a strong sense of positivity and enthusiasm for the BJP. Our message of development and progress is resonating strongly with the people of south India," he added.

(This story appeared first on Hindustan Times)

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Published: 12 May 2024, 06:11 AM IST
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