ON HIS first visit to his constituency after being re-elected for a second term, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said the three recent elections in Uttar Pradesh — 2014, 2017 (Assembly) and 2019 — had shown that the “chemistry of social strength, principles and commitment” had triumphed over “poll arithmetic”, and “political pundits” need to do a “rethink”.
Addressing party workers at the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hastkala Sankul in Varanasi, he said: “The contribution of the 2014, 2017 and 2019 polls in UP is exhibited in the massive showcase of the changes in India’s politics, socio-politics and electoral behaviour. If political pundits are still unable to see this, if they are unable to hear, then it means their thoughts, ideas and arguments are caught in a time warp. They are meant for the 20th century, not the 21st century.”
He said the efforts to create a negative perception about the BJP were trumped by his administration’s transparency and hard work. “Pundits may have this theory that politics is about perception, but these pundits will have to think again. There are two things that have the strength to defeat efforts to create a wrong perception — transparency and hard work. Today, India has accepted this,” he said.
He said an ordinary man with his ear to the ground has more understanding of politics than such political pundits. “It is by keeping our faith in this man, being dedicated to him, and with his help, with his strength, that we are trying to develop a new political system in the country,” said Modi.
“As shown in 2014, 2017 and 2019, the political pundits will have to concede that chemistry scores over arithmetic. There is a chemistry beyond multiplication and division. The chemistry of social strength, principles and commitment can defeat all arithmetic. And this time, chemistry has defeated arithmetic,” Modi said.
Modi also questioned the definition of BJP as a “Hindi heartland party”. “Today there is no region in the country where our vote percentage is not increasing, whether we win seats or not, be it Kerala, Tamil Nadu or Kashmir Valley. Pundits still keep calling us a Hindi heartland party. We are the biggest party in Karnataka, we have a government in Goa, we are everywhere in the North-East, and yet we are called a Hindi heartland party,” he said.
He said the BJP had become a victim of untouchability. “On the one hand, BJP workers suffer violence and murder. On the other, the moment BJP is mentioned, untouchability comes into practice — don’t touch them, they are dangerous… A perception has been created where we are treated as untouchables. I was Gujarat Chief Minister, and I wanted to promote tourism. I took the help of Bollywood… people pounced on these personalities. There are such people in this country. I want to request them to rethink their position. Enough is enough. Come friends, start thinking afresh. We may have shortcomings, but our intentions are right,” he said.
Raising the issue of political violence in some states, he said: “Take the case of Kerala or Kashmir, Bengal or Tripura, these do not get published in newspapers or shown in the media. The selective sensitivity of certain people, selective humanism denies the reality. But hundreds of our workers have attained martyrdom. They have been killed for their ideology. When elections were going on in Tripura, our workers were hanged. In Bengal, even today, murders continue. In Kashmir, our people have risked their lives. In Kerala, we are murdered. Rarely has a political party been subjected to violence in such a complete manner.”
Modi said the BJP and his government stood on the twin pillars of cultural conservation and modern outlook on development. “Those who are ashamed of our traditions, let them be. I am proud of it. I believe our ancestors have given a lot to the world. We have to carry forward this great legacy and modern vision. We have to conserve our culture and also address the current situation. Who stopped people from celebrating Diwali in Ayodhya? Kumbh Mela was used to malign India all these years, it was said to be an assembly of Naga sadhus. We have changed that perception… For the first time, at a Republic Day tableau, people saw the different forms of Ram across Asia. But at the same time, we set up the Atal Tinkering Lab so that our children can experiment with science and take us to new scientific heights,” he said.
In a veiled reference to the Opposition’s argument that democracy was under threat, Modi said the BJP is the most democratic party. “When others come to power, the Opposition disappears. When we come to power, the Opposition’s existence begins. I challenge political pundits to show me the Opposition in Tripura when the Left was ruling it. The Opposition had been crushed there. In two years of our rule, the Opposition has sprung up, and is being heard. This is the spirit of democracy,” he said. “No matter how small the Opposition is, we give it space. The Constitution says that even if it is one man, his voice is important,” he said.
Modi said his government had risen above vote-bank politics and granted reservations to the general category also. “The general category had to wait for so long for their right. No one was ready to listen to them. They didn’t do it because they were scared of their vote-bank being eroded,” he said.
Earlier in the day, after arriving at the Varanasi airport around 9.30 am, Modi headed straight for the Kashi Vishwanath temple. Standing on the streets lined with saffron-coloured balloons, the crowd chanted “Modi Modi” as BJP workers blew conches and beat drums.