Ahead of the counting of votes Thursday for the next Lok Sabha, the ruling BJP hosted a dinner meeting in New Delhi Tuesday for 36 NDA partners in a show of strength.
At the meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi slammed the Opposition for levelling allegations of EVM tampering — 22 Opposition parties had approached the Election Commission earlier in the day.
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According to Union Home Minister and senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh, the Prime Minister told the NDA leaders that the mammoth election exercise could have been used for “global branding” of India but it was unfortunate that the Opposition chose to cast aspersions on it.
The Aabhar Milan, hosted by Modi and BJP president Amit Shah for NDA leaders at The Ashok, was attended among others by Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray, JD(U) chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK leader Edappadi K Palaniswami, SAD leaders Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Singh Badal and LJP leader and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan.
The BJP list had representatives of 36 parties present at the meeting while three parties could not make it. The BJP described it as an occasion to thank ministers for “their service to the nation” ahead of the counting of votes on May 23.
In a tweet later, Shah said, “I congratulate Team Modi Sarkar for their hard work and remarkable achievements in the last 5 years. Let us keep this momentum going for a New India under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi.”
Thackeray, who was abroad, returned to Mumbai Tuesday morning and then came to Delhi. Sources said the dinner was an occasion “just to express the BJP’s gratitude to allies” for the Lok Sabha campaign, and there was no major political discussion since “there was not much on the table to discuss” before the counting.
A resolution passed at the meeting said the NDA is a “true representation of India’s diversity and dynamism. It is the alliance that represents the dreams and aspirations of 130 crore people”.
The resolution, which listed the achievements of the NDA government, also congratulated Prime Minister Modi for pro-people initiatives. It reiterated the commitment to double income of farmers by 2022.
Quoting Prime Minister Modi, Rajnath Singh said the NDA has become an “organic entity” now. Speaking to the media, Paswan said Modi reminded the leaders that the coalition’s main aim would be creating a new India.
Earlier in the day, both Modi and Shah had an interaction with the Union Council of Ministers at the BJP headquarters. Addressing them, Modi likened his poll campaign to a pilgrimage because, he said, it stood out from other polls since it was being fought by the people and not the party alone.
Modi’s remarks were conveyed to the media by Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. “I have seen many elections but this one was beyond politics. Public was fighting them. I have campaigned in assembly elections and undertaken political tours for the party in different elections. When I toured during these polls, it seemed that I was on a pilgrimage,” he was quoted saying by Tomar.
Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Arun Jaitley, J P Nadda and Prakash Javadekar were among the BJP leaders at the meeting. Allies Paswan, Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Anupriya Patel too attended the meeting.