Addressing his first press conference after coming to power in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted on the last day of campaigning Friday that the BJP will come back to power with a full majority, but refused to take any questions, citing party discipline.
In a surprised move, Modi showed up on the dais at the BJP headquarters here for a scheduled press conference by party president Amit Shah, who gave a detailed report card on the performance of the NDA government as well as BJP’s extensive electioneering.
After his opening remarks, Modi diverted questions by journalists, saying he will not answer because the press conference is being addressed by Shah, and in BJP’s system, discipline has to be followed.
“We are disciplined soldiers of the party. The party president is everything for us,” Modi said.
In his remarks, Modi said: “The election has been amazing (shandar). Elections were held in a positive spirit. A government with full majority will come back after remaining in power for five years. This is probably happening after a very long time. This is a big deal in itself”.
“The public has decided on the next government. We have promised many things in our manifesto to take the country forward. As soon as possible, the new government will take charge and we will take decisions one after another,” Modi added.
In the press conference, Shah answered all questions and asserted that BJP will come back with a bigger majority.
“BJP will have enough seats to form a government on its own. We will get more than 300 seats. This election is to choose the country’s Prime Minister. Narendra Modi will be the PM,” said Shah.
There has been criticism against Modi, including by Congress president Rahul Gandhi, for not addressing any press conference since he took office in 2014.
“It is not necessary that the PM responds to every question,” said Shah, when a journalist asked him a question on the allegations against Modi and his silence on the Rafale deal.
Modi said India should impress the world with its diversity and democracy.
“I believe there are some things we can be proudly tell the world. This is the world’s largest democracy. It is our responsibility to take the power of this democracy to the world. We should impress the world with the diversity of the democracy,” he said.
He said there was a time when Indian Premier League had to be shifted out of India due to polls, but under the current government, Navratri, Ram Navami, Easter, Ramzan, IPL, board exams as well as elections could take place simultaneously and smoothly.
The prime minister said, during the campaigning, he told people that “I have come to thank you for your blessings….The country has always been with us. So in a way the campaigning was a way of saying thank you to the people. Even today, I am here to thank you and thank them through you.” Modi said work to fulfil promises made in BJP’s manifesto will be started as soon as the party comes to power.
“We ensured last-mile delivery which was a new structure of governance…Our government will take up its responsibility as soon as possible,” he added.
The prime minister said the journey for an honest government started on May 17, 2014, a day after Lok Sabha election results were announced.
“Election results came on May 16, 2014 and a huge casualty took place on May 17, 2014. Today is also May 17. People in ‘Satta bazaar’ who bet for Congress to win in elections faced huge losses on May 17,” he added.
The prime minister also talked about BJP’s meticulously plan for the election campaign.
The Congress mocked Modi for not taking any questions in his first appearance at a press conference, with party president Rahul Gandhi saying “showing up is half the battle”.
“Congratulations Modi Ji. Excellent Press Conference! Showing up is half the battle. Next time Mr Shah may even allow you to answer a couple of questions. Well done,” Gandhi said in a tweet.
‘Most expensive campaign’
Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew 1.5 lakh km and addressed 142 public rallies during the most extensive campaign for a Lok Sabha election since Independence, Shah.
“Since Independence, the most hardworking, extensive election campaign was this one and Modi’s outreach was unprecedented,” Shah said.
There is hardly any part of the country Modi did not visit during the election campaign between February and May, he said.
The dates for the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections were announced on March 10.
“On 28 March 2019, the campaign started from Meerut. PM Modi addressed 142 public rallies, held four roadshows and, according to conservative estimates, he directly addressed about 1.5 crore people in these rallies. Modi’s campaign involved air travel of around 1.5 lakh km,” he said.
Shah also said that he himself visited 312 Lok Sabha constituencies and addressed 161 public rallies. He claimed he travelled 1.58 lakh km and held 18 roadshows.
Shah said the BJP ran a very successful campaign reaching all sections of society. He expressed confidence that his party will come back to power with a majority.
He said slogans like ‘fir ek baar Modi sarkar’ and ‘main bhi chowkidar’ were not given by the BJP leadership but by the “common BJP volunteers”.
Modi said that this was a great election campaign.
“The BJP-led NDA is heading towards a clear majority…I have not missed or cancelled a single rally,” said Modi. PTI