Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party is likely to win a mandate greater than 2014 in the 2019 elections, and that the Opposition’s grand alliance “died before it was born”.

Jaitley claimed in a blog post that the reaction to the BJP’s 2019 Lok Sabha campaign had been euphoric. The BJP had won 31% of the votes in the 2014 General Elections, and 282 out of 543 Lok Sabha seats.

The finance minister said that after three rounds of voting covering 303 Parliamentary seats, the BJP seems to be making substantial gains in Eastern states, while it is likely to win the polls in Karnataka.

“The Congress obviously is in no position to effectively take on the regional parties or the BJP,” the finance minister added. “Therefore, the only issue in the future rounds is the width of the margin of victory of the BJP. Will it be a repeat of 2014 in terms of votes or will it be more?”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public approval rating hovers between 65% and 70%, which is unprecedented in India, he claimed. He also said that Congress President Rahul Gandhi had built up a “fake narrative” of a scam in the Rafale deal and loan waiver to industrialists.

Attacks Congress

The BJP leader claimed that the Congress is contesting the 2019 polls on the agenda of the 1971 Lok Sabha elections. “The Congress Party and Rahul Gandhi are 48 years behind the times. 2019 and 1971 are 48 years apart,” he said. “India’s social combination and economic profile has completely changed.”

Jaitley asserted that it seems that power is a “distant dream” for the Congress, and it has given up the battle in the 2019 elections.

The finance minister also alleged that Gandhi wanted to “seek cover” by contesting from a second Lok Sabha constituency, Wayanad, while his sister Priyanka Gandhi skipped the race in Varanasi against the prime minister. The Congress, after weeks of speculation, announced Ajay Rai as its candidate for the Varanasi seat.

The Lok Sabha elections are being held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, and the results will be declared on May 23. The fourth phase of the polls will be held on April 29.