Congress fighting for existence, Opposition united by hatred for me: PM Narendra Modi
The Opposition tie-ups are not motivated by national good but power politics; 2019 polls to be a choice between development and chaos, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Congress is fighting a battle for its existence, a shared hatred for him is the sole glue in the “united” opposition, and the next election will be a choice between governance and development on one side and chaos on the other, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an interview to Swarajya magazine.
He said a Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) type “non-ideological and opportunistic coalition” was “the best guarantee for chaos” and spoke about the internal contradictions within the proposed grand alliance to suggest that “such instability adversely impacts the growth trajectory of our nation”. In Karnataka, after the recent assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party emerged the single largest party with 104 seats in the 224-member assembly, but the Congress (79 seats) forged a partnership with the JD(S) by agreeing to make the latter’s HD Kumaraswamy the chief minister.
The opposition alliances are not motivated by national good, but they are about personal survival and power politics, the prime minister said. “They have no agenda except to remove Modi,” he said in the interview.
The Prime Minister was asked if he is worried about the formation of a grand alliance of opposition parties, much like the groupings that came together in 1977 and 1989 to unseat the then ruling dispensations.
Modi described as “flawed” the comparison between today’s grand alliance and that of 1977 or 1989. “In 1977, 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.
The prime minister said there was no grand alliance, but a grand race in the opposition for the prime minister’s post. “The whole focus is power politics, not people’s progress,” he said. “How long will the dislike and mistrust these parties and leaders have for each other keep them together?”
He referred to the bitter contest between the proponents of the grand alliance idea in states such as West Bengal and Kerala. The last time, he said, the opposition tried coming together in Uttar Pradesh in 1993; such an alliance could last only two years.
The Prime Minister questioned who was the cementing element of such an alliance. The Congress, he said, is like a regional party that is in power only in Punjab, Mizoram and Puducherry. “Their ‘strength’ in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar is also well known,” he said.
Modi said India knows how the Congress treated its allies, and betrayed and insulted veterans such as Chaudhary Charan Singh and HD Deve Gowda. The Congress can make sacrifices, Modi said, but for its self-interest.
He called the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) a “large and happy family” of over 20 parties that is the leading coalition in various states. “NDA is not our compulsion. It is an article of faith. A large and diverse NDA is good for India’s democracy,” Modi said.
His remarks comes against the backdrop of the Telugu Desam Party, BJP’s biggest ally from the South, quitting the NDA and the Shiv Sena, BJP’s oldest ally, announcing that it will contest the 2019 election separately.
Modi said the 2014 mandate, when the BJP won a majority on its own (the first for a party in three decades), was “special”, but added that the BJP took allies along and made them part of the government despite having the numbers to rule the country on its own.
Modi said the BJP draws support from all social groups, and was unlike the parties that are “run by families” and draw strength only from a few social groups.
The prime minister reiterated his support to the “one-nation-one-election” idea, simultaneous state and Lok Sabha elections, and suggested that a common electoral roll and simultaneous polls would address several anomalies in the current system.
The Congress hit back at Modi. “The Prime Minister cannot tolerate the Opposition and he should not give suggestions to us about the strategy that we need to use to remove him from the post,” party spokesperson Anand Sharma said. “We know it very well. He should not complain to us that we are going to remove him. Not only him but the ouster of this government is in the national interest and we will complete that work.”
“He is in perpetual election mode and wants to be in a state of conflict with the Opposition. It is him who has prevented building national consensus on key issues,” Sharma added.” It is this mindset of continuous propaganda and confrontation that has come in the way of building national consensus on any important issue.”
The Samajwadi Party (SP) said the agenda of the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayansevak Sangh, its ideological mentor, is to weaken democracy. “To save democracy and strengthen the democratic values, it is important to remove Modi and bring a new Prime Minister. That is our agenda,” SP spokesperson Rajendra Choudhary said.
Sidharth Mishra, professor at the New Delhi-based Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies and a political analyst said, “The PM has rightly perceived the threat which the grand alliance poses to him. A disintegrated opposition is BJP’s best bet to come back to power in 2019.”