IN REMARKS reminiscent of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s battle cry ahead of the 1971 polls, BJP president Amit Shah said on Saturday that while the Narendra Modi-led BJP government was trying to make the country free of “anarchy, corruption and poverty”, other parties were indulging in the agenda of “Modi Hatao (Remove Modi)”. His remarks come days after the Opposition’s show of unity in Karnataka.
“Vipaksh ka agenda ek hi hai: Modi ko hatao. BJP aur Narendra Modi ka agenda hai desh mein se avyawastha, bhrashtachar aur garibi ko hatakar, sthirta aur vikas pradaan karna (Opposition has a single-point agenda: to remove Modi. The agenda of the BJP and Narendra Modi is to eradicate anarchy, corruption and poverty from the country, to provide stability and development),” said Shah, addressing the media on the fourth anniversary of the BJP-led NDA government.
Shah’s remarks, at a time when the Opposition parties have stepped up efforts to jointly defeat the BJP in the 2019 elections, are reminiscent of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s battle cry ahead of the 1971 elections. “Woh kehte hain ‘Indira hatao’; main kehti hoon garibi hatao,” was her electoral rhetoric against the Opposition and a powerful section of Congress elders who had split as Congress (O). Riding on this slogan, Indira returned to power with an enhanced majority in 1971.
While the BJP president, who spoke at length on the achievements of the Modi government over the last four years, did not completely rule out the impact of Opposition unity in the upcoming bypolls in Uttar Pradesh, he dismissed any threat to the party in the Lok Sabha elections.
Playing down the BJP’s loss in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls earlier this year, Shah said this cannot be compared with the general elections, when people will vote to decide if Modi will be their prime minister again. “The polls in Uttar Pradesh are a year away. We will work to win 50 per cent of votes. There is a different parameter for voters when they vote to form a government, to decide whether Modi will be prime minister or somebody else. They cannot be compared,” Shah said.
“In UP, two boys (referring to SP leader Akhilesh Yadav and Congress president Rahul Gandhi) got together to fight elections in the past, you people did some math, giving them 240 seats. And the BJP ended up with 325 seats,” he pointed out. The SP-Congress alliance won only 54 seats.
Accusing the Opposition parties of “spreading lies” against the Modi government and his party, Shah said the BJP-led government, since coming to power in 2014, has started a new era in Indian politics, ending the politics of dynasty, casteism and appeasement, while ushering politics of development.
Projecting Modi as the “most popular and most hardworking prime minister with unending energy”, Shah said he had replaced the UPA’s policy paralysis with a policy-driven government working for the poor and improved economy, while also raising the country’s esteem in the world. Asked about the promise of “achche din”, Shah said the government had “done a lot to fulfill its promises in four years, and one year is still left”.
Responding to the Congress’s allegation that the government was peddling lies and Modi had harmed the dignity of his chair, Shah said the BJP was ready for a debate over facts and figures on the Centre’s achievements. The BJP president said the honour of the prime minister’s chair had hit rock bottom under the Congress-led UPA, as he took a dig at former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, remarking that Modi does not need to seek anybody’s permission before taking a decision. “The Congress will not decide about the dignity of the prime minister’s chair. People have done it. They have replaced its 14 state governments (with BJP),” Shah said.