Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Tuesday that the country would be pushed back by at least 50 years if the Bharatiya Janata Party loses the Lok Sabha elections, PTI reported. Speaking at a party function in Mumbai, Fadnavis said such a mandate would be a “historic blunder”.

“The 2019 election is not for BJP but it is important for Bharat,” Fadnavis claimed. “If the BJP loses, a non-decisive government of 2009-’14 [when Congress-led United Progressive Alliance was in power] will be repeated and India will go back by 50 years at least.”

Fadnavis criticised the Opposition for targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi for alleged irregularities in the Rafale defence deal and saying “chowkidar chor hai [the watchman is a thief]”. Modi often describes himself as the country’s watchman. “Those who have done something wrong are afraid of the ‘chowkidar’,” the chief minister added.

Meanwhile, BJP Mumbai chief Ashish Shelar said the party would win all six seats in the city. “I can see the enthusiasm in [BJP workers] and I am sure this is the beginning of the party’s victory in the Lok Sabha,” The Hindu quoted him as saying. “This will show whose voice is the loudest in Mumbai.”

Shelar said Congress leaders were running away from the battle as they were afraid of losing. He taunted Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam for not contesting the Mumbai North Lok Sabha seat, calling him a coward. Priya Dutt and Milind Deora too are not willing to contest elections, he said. “This is because of the power you have shown,” he told party workers.