Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah on Friday said the Lok Sabha polls would be about a clash between ideologies, and as significant for the country as the third Battle of Panipat, PTI reported. The third battle of Panipat had taken place in 1761 between the Marathas and the forces of Afghan ruler Ahmad Shah Abdali.

Shah made the remarks at the party’s two-day national council meeting, which began in New Delhi on Friday. He said the elections were “extremely important” for both his party and the country. “It is important for the youth, it is important to millions of people in the country waiting for development,” he added. “We are making every effort to make Vivekananda’s imagination of India a reality under the leadership of Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi.”

A victory in the elections would allow the saffron party to pursue its agenda of cultural nationalism and the welfare for the poor, the BJP president added in his speech that lasted for more than an hour.

He said that a proposed grand alliance of Opposition parties was a sham and alleged that the parties had been brought together by their greed of power. Such an alliance would be a disparate group with neither a leader nor any policy, Shah added.

The BJP president lashed out at Congress President Rahul Gandhi for levelling graft allegations against the prime minister, pointing out that Gandhi himself has received bail in a “case of corruption”.

Shah expressed confidence that the party would improve its tally in Uttar Pradesh, where the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party are set to contest together to keep the BJP at bay. “The people who could not face each other have today come together in the face of defeat,” he said. “They know that it is not possible to face Narendra Modi alone.”

Grateful to Modi for upper-caste quota bill

The BJP president lauded Modi for his efforts that helped pass the upper-caste quota bill in Parliament, News18 reported. “The economically backward youths had a demand for years, our government solved their problem,” Shah said. “We are grateful to PM Modi for this momentous step.”

The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Fourth Amendment) Bill, 2019, a day after it was passed in the Lok Sabha. The bill seeks to provide 10% reservations in aided and unaided institutions to the economically backward from upper castes. Shah said this was one of the most important legislation passed in Parliament.

The theme of the two-day BJP meeting is “Abki Baar Phir Modi Sarkar” [Once again Modi’s government], The Indian Express reported. Other senior leaders present at the meet included LK Advani, Union ministers Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari and Sushma Swaraj, and senior party leader Murali Manohar Joshi. The leadership is expected to discuss the government’s achievements since it came to power in 2014 and come up with a strategy to defeat the Congress.

The government’s social-justice plank and its outreach towards Dalits, backward classes and the general category are likely to be the key themes, PTI reported. The party has invited all its elected members besides organisational leaders from across the country.

Shah also applauded the Goods and Services Tax Council’s decision to double the exemption limit for businesses choosing to opt out of the indirect taxation system and for raising the threshold for businesses to avail the composition scheme. “We have revamped GST to help small businesses,” he said.

The move, announced on Thursday, is expected to give relief to micro, small and medium enterprises.