‘Modi vs who question could arise in 2024’: PM predicts easy win in Lok Sabha polls
Up until a few weeks ago most opinion polls were expecting a close run race, but over the past month, Modi’s BJP has benefited from nationalist fervour unleashed by a flare up in tensions with neighbouring Pakistan.Updated: Mar 29, 2019 22:55 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed confidence that the Bharatiya Janat Party (BJP) and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will win more seats in the April-May general election than they did in 2014, and will improve their performance in areas where they have been traditionally weak.
“Earlier, people asked who Modi is. Now they know what I have done for national security. They know my intent for welfare of poor. They are aware of all these. I believe the BJP will not only get full majority, but will get a greater majority than last time,” Modi told Republic TV news channel in an interview broadcast on Friday.
“Our allies (in the NDA) will also win more seats. People will also give us greater strength in areas where we have been weak.”
In 2014, the BJP became the first party in 30 years to win an absolute majority in the 543-member Lok Sabha with 282 seats, riding a wave in favour of Modi that swept away the opposition including the Congress, which was beset by corruption scandals in the second term of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) that it led.
This time around, some pollsters have predicted that the BJP and the NDA may win fewer seats, but Modi claimed that the 2019 election would be a no-contest (between the BJP and the opposition) , and that people have already made up their minds that they would hand the next government a full majority.
“India has seen 30 years of instability. People now want a stable government. They want that the major partner of any coalition should get full majority, and other allies also (to) get (a) good number of seats,” Modi said.
Modi dismissed criticism over the February 26 strike conducted by the Indian Air Force (IAF) on a terrorist camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan, in reprisal for the February 14 suicide car bombing in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama that left at least 40 paramilitary troopers dead. Some opposition parties have raised questions about the death toll in the strike.
“These people see statesmanship in the statement of Pakistan Prime Minister (Imran Khan) and they doubt their own Prime Minister. People will have to identify these people,” Modi said.
It was a reference to the praise won by Khan from some quarters for releasing a captured Indian pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, and his offer of talks to India. Varthaman was captured on February 27 following a dogfight along the Line of Control in Kashmir .
“When Abhinandan incident happened, all opposition parties should have spoken in own voice expressing honour that we had shot down a F-16,” Modi said.
Modi noted that he had publicly announced after the Pulwama attack that he had given a free hand to all security- related institutions to respond to the attack. Modi defended his government’s track record on economic offenders, and said the Centre has enacted laws to deal with the fugitives among such offenders. “Wherever in the world they hide, their money can be confiscated,” he said.
He attacked the Congress, saying previous governments led by the party had been mired in corruption in defence deals. “In our country, defence deals have been like an ATM for previous governments. All previous Congress government have used these ATMs,” said Modi, who has been attacked by the Congress and its president Rahul Gandhi for alleged wrongdoing in the Rafale jet fighter deal. The Prime Minister also criticised the Congress’ new income scheme. Congress president Rahul Gandhi has just unveiled a minimum income guarantee scheme, promising the poorest of poor households at least Rs.12,000 a month. Modi said generations of the same family had spoken about eradicating poverty. “Dynasty is dangerous for a democracy,” he said.
Hitting back, Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi said, “We have seen how Mr. Narendra has catered to the whims and fancies of his suited-booted friends and totally ignored the demand and the hopes that the rural villagers and people living in rural areas have had of him.”