New Delhi: BJP president Amit Shah Friday projected the Lok Sabha polls as a clash of ideologies and likened it to the third battle of Panipat between Marathas and the Afghans army, saying the election results will be equally significant for the country. In his inaugural address at a party convention here, he dismissed the proposed grand alliance of opposition parties against the BJP as a “sham”, saying they are a disparate group with neither a leader nor any policy and have been brought together by their greed of power.
The BJP must win the elections to pursue its agenda of cultural nationalism and the poor’s welfare, he said. The party has the “world’s most popular” leader in Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he asserted, asking thousands of BJP delegates to go with the pledge of bringing the government back to power.
In his speech, which lasted over an hour, Shah repeatedly emphasised the significance of the upcoming polls, stressed on a number of Modi government’s measures- especially those related to security, curbing corruption and welfare programmes- and hit out at the Congress for its dare to target Modi on the issue of graft when its president Rahul Gandhi is on bail in a “case of corruption”. Modi and other top leaders of the party were on dais as he gave the party war cry to win the next polls, claiming that people like the BJP want a “majboot sarkar” (strong government) and the opposition wants a “majboor sarkar” (helpless government).
“Nobody other than Modi can give a strong government,” Shah said, adding that it will be an election to give stability to the country’s development and the party’s expansion. Opposition parties know that it is impossible to “defeat” Modi, who has emerged as the “nucleus” of politics like the Congress was for many decades, he said, claiming that people continue to stand behind the prime minister like a rock and that the BJP is sure to win under him.
Underlining the election’s significance, he said battles are of different kinds; consequences of some are confined to win and defeated, of some others are felt for a decade of so while of some others are felt for centuries.
“I believe the 2019 battle is going to be like this,” he said, drawing a parallel with the third battle of Panipat. “This is an example in history which matches with the situation today,” he said, asserting that it is a must for the party to win the polls.
Under king Shivaji, Marathas had started freeing different parts of India and won over 131 battles under various kings before losing the third battle of Panipat. “It was not merely a loss in one battle… India was sunk in slavery for 200 years and the English ruled it for two countries. It was a decisive battle,” he said.
Noting that from six states in 2014, when it came to power at the Centre, the BJP is ruling 16 states now, he said it will rule south India and form its government in Kerala if the Modi government is re-elected.
Amid a growing challenge from opposition parties and the BJP’s defeat in the recent state polls, Shah sought to reassure the party cadres about its prospects in the general elections, saying he knew Modi since 1987 and not a single election has been lost under him. He also claimed that the party is on its way to win more than 50 per cent votes in Uttar Pradesh, asserting the saffron alliance’s tally will improve from the 73 seats it had won in 2014 out of the state’s 80.
Mocking the “bua-bhatija” alliance of Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s BSP, he said they could not stand each other but have now joined hands due to the BJP’s fear.
Dismissing “Rahul baba and company’s” allegation of corruption against the Modi government on the Rafale issue as baseless, he said somebody told him that the Congress could not face elections without levelling charges against the prime minister whose image, he added, remains unblemished.
Mocking Gandhi for his dare to attack the government on the issue of corruption, he said he and his mother Sonia Gandhi are out on bail in a case of graft, a reference to the National Herald matter. Referring to the passage of a bill in Parliament to give 10 per cent quota to the general category poor, Shah said the Modi government has “fulfilled” the dreams of crores of youths and described the constitution amendment bill as one of the most important legislations passed by Parliament.
He also asserted that the party wants Ram temple to be constructed at the earliest in Ayodhya, noting that the matter is in the Supreme Court. He accused the Congress of creating hurdles to delay a verdict.