Dismissing Opposition moves to put up a united front against the BJP as one “not motivated by national good” but for “personal survival and power politics”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the “Grand Alliance” is merely a “grand race” by his rivals to become Prime Minister.
“Hatred for Modi is the sole gluing force for the Opposition,” Modi said in an interview with Swarajya magazine.
Any comparison between the Opposition parties uniting against the then ruling Congress in 1977 and 1989 to the present move, he said, is “flawed”. The “common motive of the alliance was to protect our democracy that was under great threat due to the Emergency. In 1989, the record-breaking corruption of Bofors had hurt the entire nation,” he said.
“Today, these alliances are not motivated by national good but they are about personal survival and power politics. They have no agenda except to remove Modi… In the Opposition, there is no Grand Alliance, there is just a grand race to be Prime Minister. Rahul Gandhi says he is ready to be Prime Minister but TMC does not agree. Mamataji (West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee) wants to be PM but the Left has a problem. SP thinks their leader, more than anyone else, deserves to be PM. The whole focus is power politics, not people’s progress,” he said.
“Hatred for Modi is the sole gluing force for the Opposition and it is not as if they have not tried Grand Alliances in 2014 and in the ensuing state elections. The results are for everyone to see,” he said.
“How long will the dislike and mistrust these parties and leaders have for each other keep them together? They are in direct bitter contests against each other in various states like West Bengal and Kerala. The last time these parties formed a government in Uttar Pradesh (in 1993), it could not even last two years. Such instability adversely impacts the growth trajectory of our nation,” he said.
Modi said the BJP-led NDA is “not a compulsion” but an “article of faith”. Asked about the weakening of NDA with parties like TDP and PDP leaving it, Modi pointed out that the BJP made its allies part of the government despite having adequate numbers for forming a government on its own in 2014.
“You must understand how we in the BJP view the NDA. NDA is not our compulsion. It is an article of faith. A large and diverse NDA is good for India’s democracy. In a country like ours, it is most important to respect regional aspirations. NDA is committed to fulfilling these aspirations across the length and breadth of India,” he said.
Taking a swipe at the Congress, he said the main Opposition party is fighting a battle for its survival (“astitva ki ladai”) and is now running from pillar to post looking for allies after people rejected its “high-handedness”. He said the Congress has now become like a regional party and cannot become a cementing force or anchor for any alliance of Opposition parties against him.
Describing the next election as a choice between governance and development on one side and chaos on the other, the Prime Minister cited the example of Karnataka where the Congress-JD(S) alliance “stole the mandate” to form a government with “development taking a back seat”.
“In any election, a non-ideological and opportunist coalition is the best guarantee for chaos,” he said, describing Karnataka as “a trailer of what is possibly in store”. According to Modi, Karnataka ministers meet each other only to sort out infighting instead of resolving developmental issues.
The BJP, he said, contests elections on the issues of development and good governance and the mandate it has received in state after state have been historic. “Hence, we are confident that people will repose their trust in us. They (Opposition) have no agenda except to remove Modi,” he said.