Bharatiya Janata Party National President Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a press briefing in New Delhi on Friday. This was the first press meet the prime minister addressed since he took over the post in May 2014.
However, Modi did not answer any questions, instead allowing Shah to do so. “Party chief is supreme,” said Modi as he diverted a question to Amit Shah. Later, when a reporter insisted Modi answer a question, Shah said, “I am answering. It is not necessary that the prime minister answer every question...the question is baseless.”
Modi said Indian democracy should be such that it is able to influence the world. He took a dig at the Congress for shifting the Indian Premier League out of the country during the 2009 and 2014 elections and said all festivals and events can now be celebrated during the polls. He was referring to Ramzan being held during the elections this time.
Modi praised the media for its hard work during the elections. “The polls were conducted in a positive atmosphere,” he said. “Perhaps this needs some verification, but it will happen after a long time that a government returns to power with full majority.”
“The country was always with me [during the five years],” he said. “For me, the election campaign was about thanking the people. I also wish to thank you [the media]. The country is blessing us more than they did last time.”
Modi claimed that bookies had suffered major losses a day after the 2014 poll results. He said this was the first time honesty had won in the country.
‘People’s faith in democracy restored’
Amit Shah claimed that the people’s faith in democracy has been restored over the last five years. He said this is the result of 133 schemes launched by the government. Shah said there are BJP governments now in 16 states. He added that the BJP government has introduced schemes to empower, women, farmers and Dalits.
“Everybody believes that the country is safe under the leadership of Narendra Modi,” Shah claimed. “Nobody feels unsafe in the country anymore.”
The BJP chief said that in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the party has contested 80 out of 120 seats. It will perform very well in these constituencies, he added.
“This is the first election when the Opposition has not raised topics like inflation and corruption,” Shah claimed. He also asserted that the Modi-led government has been the most hardworking government since Independence.
Shah said that all BJP slogans, “Main bhi Chowkidar”, “Modi Hai to Mumkin Hai”, etc, had come from the people of India, not the party. He claimed that instead of “Phir Ek Baar Modi Sarkar”, people are now saying “Baar Baar Modi Sarkar”.
Shah said all BJP workers believe that when the results are announced on May 23, the party will win more than 300 seats and again form a government under the leadership of Modi.
Shah, answering a question, reiterated his belief that the BJP would win over 300 seats, but added that any other party willing to enter the National Democratic Alliance would be welcome. The BJP president said the party will perform well in West Bengal, the North East states and Odisha, and will improve its vote share in southern states too. He also claimed the BJP will win more seats than it did in 2014 in Maharashtra and Karnataka.
The BJP chief claimed 80 party workers had been killed in West Bengal in the last one-and-a-half years. He said that while the BJP is contesting polls in all states, only in Bengal has it faced such violence. “Why don’t you raise this matter?” Shah asked the media.
The BJP president said that disciplinary action will be taken against three party leaders who made statements in favour of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse, including its Bhopal candidate Pragya Singh Thakur.
He said there is a distinction between Thakur’s remarks and the appropriateness of her candidature. “The candidature is a response to the false narrative of Hindu terror,” he said. Shah added that the United States and United Nations had said that the Lashkar-e-Taiba was responsible for the Samjhauta Express blasts, but the Congress-led government had blamed “Hindu terror”. He demanded an apology from Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.
Shah also denied that there was any corruption in the Rafale deal. He said that if Gandhi had any such information, he should have placed it before the Supreme Court.
Asked what his government’s biggest regret was, Shah said: “It is that you [the media] are not on our side. That you have not been convinced by our performance.”