Agency | Published on Fri 11 Jan 2019 11:07 PM IST
NEW DELHI: BJP president Amit Shah on Friday projected the Lok Sabha polls as a clash of ideologies and likened it to the "decisive" third battle of Panipat between Marathas and the Afghan army, saying the election results will be equally significant for the country.
In his inaugural address at a party convention in Delhi, he dismissed the proposed grand alliance of opposition parties as a "sham", saying they are a disparate group with neither a leader nor any policy and have been brought together by their greed of power. He also asserted that the BJP wants Ram temple to be constructed at the earliest in Ayodhya, drawing huge applause from thousands of party members, and accused the Congress of creating hurdles in the issue's early resolution in the Supreme Court.
Targeting the opposition, Shah said its proposed alliance has no nationwide relevance and the BJP had defeated each of them in 2014, claiming that the party is sure to come back to power with a bigger majority. It had won 282 of 543 seats in the last Lok Sabha polls. Amid a challenge from the likely opposition unity and the BJP's defeat in the recent state polls, Shah sought to reassure the party cadres about its prospects, describing Modi as an "invincible warrior" he has known since 1987 and under whom not a single election has been lost.
The party has the "world's most popular, visionary, transparent and hardworking" leader in Modi with the opposition having no match to him, he asserted, asking thousands of BJP delegates to go with the pledge of bringing the government back to power. That rival parties are joining hands against the BJP is their admission of Modi's strength, he said.
In his over an hour-long speech, Shah emphasised on a number of government's measures- especially those related to security, curbing corruption and welfare programmes for the poor and farmers- and attacked the Congress for the dare to target Modi on the issue of graft when its president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi are on bail in a "case of corruption". With Modi and other top leaders on dais, he gave the party war cry to win the next polls, claiming that people like the BJP want a "majboot sarkar" (strong government) and the opposition wants a "majboor sarkar" (helpless government). "Nobody other than Modi can give a strong government," Shah said.
"Two ideologies are facing off during the polls. We stand for cultural nationalism and antyodaya (poor's welfare). On the other hand, there is neither a leader not policy, only a disparate group of selfish parties brought together by their greed of power," he said. He said rivals find it "impossible" to defeat Modi, who has emerged as the "nucleus" of politics like the Congress was for many decades, claiming that people stand behind the prime minister like a rock.
Underlining the poll's significance, he said battles are of different kinds; consequences of some are felt for a decade or so while of some others are felt for centuries. "I believe the 2019 battle is going to be like this. That is why it is important to win. For 70 years the poor and deprived got nothing and the BJP government has made a successful attempt to provide for them. This battle is for them," he said, drawing a parallel with the third battle of Panipat. Under king Shivaji, Marathas had started freeing different parts of India and won over 131 battles under various kings before losing the third battle of Panipat in 1761. "It was not merely a loss in one battle... India was sunk in slavery for 200 years and the English ruled us for two countries. It was a decisive battle," he said. He also claimed that the party is on its way to win more than 50 per cent votes in Uttar Pradesh, asserting the saffron alliance's tally will increase to 74 seats from 73 it had won in 2014 out of the state's 80.
Mocking the "bua-bhatija" alliance of Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party and Mayawati's BSP, he said they could not stand each other but have now joined hands due to the BJP's fear. Dismissing Rahul Gandhi's allegation of corruption against the Modi government on the Rafale issue as baseless, he said the prime minister's image is unblemished and referred to the Supreme Court's order that rejected demands for a probe. When "chowkidar" (watchman) came to power all thieves ran away, he said, referring to fugitives like Vijay Mallya, claiming they will be held to account. Referring to the passage of a bill in Parliament to give 10 percent quota to the general category poor, Shah said the government has "fulfilled" dreams of crores of youths, describing it as one of the most important legislations passed by Parliament. For 30-40 years, upper castes' youths felt neglected and did not get a level playing field, he said.