In their last huddle at the party’s National Council meeting before the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP top brass on Sunday projected a united front, with both Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and party patriarch L K Advani stepping up to rally behind Narendra Modi’s bid for prime ministership.
Modi, on his part, tried to silence critics by providing a peek into his vision for the country, while issuing a veiled warning against the Aam Aadmi Party’s national ambitions, saying the people should trust his “track record” on governance and not the “tape record” of AAP’s promises.
Advani, however, cautioned party workers against “over confidence”, reminding them about the party’s debacle in the 2004 elections. While Modi sought to suggest that his vision for India does not discriminate on the basis of identity, Advani reminded cadres about the founding principle of “integral humanism” and urged them to reach out to Muslims, claiming that the party’s attempts in this direction were rewarded in the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan recently.
Both Modi and Swaraj criticised the Congress’s decision to refrain from declaring its prime ministerial candidate. “It is a drama similar to that of (Sonia Gandhi’s) ‘voice of conscience’. The Congress has not declared its candidate out of fear. Our leadership is visible, theirs is invisible,” said Swaraj.
“I see a human angle behind this decision. When defeat is imminent, which mother will sacrifice her son politically? The heart of a mother (Sonia) decided to protect her son (Rahul Gandhi),” said Modi.
Playing the “lower caste” card, Modi said, “Woh naamdar hain, main kaamdar hun. (They are from the elite class, I am from the working class). Elites consider it below their standard to fight with the working class. There has been a tradition of higher caste-lower caste sentiments. Why should a person born in higher class contest with one born in backward caste. This is also a reason, apart from the political reason.”
Accusing Modi’s detractors of a sustained campaign to blame him for the Gujarat riots, Swaraj said, “Satyamev Jayate. This is an episode that Narendra Modi had to suffer for the last 12 years… Only a person with self-confidence can remain steadfast on his path. Justice has been done after 12 years.”
Earlier, while party president Rajnath Singh and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley had both hailed the court’s clean chit to Modi, Swaraj had remained silent on the issue.
Advani said Modi’s selection as the party’s chief campaigner and his subsequent projection as prime ministerial candidate had enthused the party cadres. His reference to both these events is significant as he had not only skipped the party’s National Executive at Goa where Modi was annointed chief campaigner but also resigned from the party post in continued…