Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday claimed that the first phase of Lok Sabha elections, held on April 11, showed that the “Modi factor” was visible throughout the country. On the other hand, the finance minister said, the Opposition is in disarray in many states.
“[Bharatiya Janata Party chief] Amit Shah’s challenge to the BJP workers to prepare for a 50% voting target in the BJP stronghold states even where there are opposition alliances seems coming through,” Jaitley said in a blog post. “The opposition is in a disarray in many states, alliances having not worked out. Multi-cornered contest obviously favours the BJP.” He said there have been “verbal battles” between Opposition parties, while Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee have been attacking Congress President Rahul Gandhi.
“To oust a popular government, an extremely popular Prime Minister [Narendra Modi], you need some real issues, not fictional issues,” Jaitley claimed. “The Opposition wasted the past two years in a run-up to the polls manufacturing issues which didn’t exist. The false campaign on Rafale didn’t carry much weight. Loan waiver to industrialists was a lie, the electronic voting machines as an instrument of rigging was a bigger lie. Now that they are in the midst of the campaign for over a month, what is the issue which they are able to focus on?”
The finance minister claimed that there is no constancy in the Opposition’s election campaign. “There is no leader, no gathbandhan [alliance], no Common Minimum Programme and no real issue,” he said. “Not surprisingly there are not many takers for a failed campaign. It is ‘Rent a Cause’ Campaign.”
Jaitley labelled signature campaigns from academics, former civil servants and ex-Army officers as “signature propaganda”. Referring to a letter purportedly sent by former Army officers to President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday, Jaitley added that “many of those whose signature appear have not consented to their signatures been put”.
“The BJP and its allies are speaking directly to the people,” he added. “They speak through mass rallies, media and social media.” On the other hand, the Opposition has not found a single major problem against the government in five years, Jaitley alleged. The BJP leader said the Opposition was trying to find a new cause on a daily basis to overcome this failure.
“One day Pulwama [attack] was questioned as self-engineered,” the BJP leader said. “The next day Balakot [airstrike] was questioned as a non-existent operation. The anti-satellite missile was passed off as a Nehruvian contribution even though Panditji’s correspondence with Dr Homi Bhabha established to the contrary.”
Jaitley said that the Opposition alternately accuses the BJP of whipping up war hysteria and of being pro-Pakistan. Referring to the Congress’ attack on Union minister Smriti Irani’s admission that she lacks a graduate degree, Jaitley said the Opposition party has forgotten that “a public audit of Rahul Gandhi’s academic credentials may leave a lot to be answered. After all, he got an M Phil without a Masters degree!”.
The Lok Sabha elections are being held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19. The results will be declared on May 23.