New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday predicted that the BJP will “definitely” get 370 seats and the ruling National Democratic Alliance will cross 400 seats in the Lok Sabha polls as he tore into the Congress, saying its “shop” is on the verge of closure.
In his nearly 100-minute reply to the discussion on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s address in Lok Sabha, he said his government in its third term will take “very big” decisions and lay a strong foundation for the India of next 1,000 years while the opposition has made up its mind to remain in opposition with reduced numbers.
Opposition members failed to offer any constructive suggestion in the debate even in the Parliament’s last session before the polls and many of them will be relegated to visitors gallery, he said, adding that he has heard some of them want to change their constituencies while some others are eyeing a Rajya Sabha berth.
The Congress was in power for many decades and now it has resolved to remain in the opposition for decades, he said.
Modi exuded confidence of retaining power for a third term and kept the attack mostly on the Congress.
“The shop of the Congress is on the verge of closure as it tries to launch the same product again and again,” he said in a swipe at Rahul Gandhi, currently leading his party’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, who has often referred to the Congress opening “mohabbat ki dukaan (shop of love) to counter BJP’s alleged “hate politics”.
There were frequent protests by opposition party members as Modi criticised its stalwarts Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi over a host of issues.
The Congress has not only harmed itself but other opposition parties and the country too, he said in his likely last speech in the current Lok Sabha.
He said the Congress has adopted “cancel culture” as it seeks to cancel every achievement of the country in its single-minded pursuit to target him.
Modi also hit back at the opposition over its charge against his government that it was misusing probe agencies to target its leaders, asserting that his campaign against corruption will continue.
Probe agencies work independently and this is how the Constitution envisages them to function, he said, adding that it is for courts to judge their action.
He said the country needs a good and healthy opposition but the Congress failed in its role and did not allow other voices, including young leaders, to emerge due to its apprehension that they may overshadow others.
It can not look beyond its “shahi parivaar” (royal family), he said in a jibe at the Gandhi family.
In its first term, his government filled up the “ditches” left behind by the 10-year rule of the Congress-led UPA government, laid the foundation of a new India in its second term and will speed up the pace of a developed India in the third, he said.
“The third term will witness very big decisions. It will lay a strong foundation of India of the next 1,000 years,” he said.
The prime minister cited a host of decisions taken by his government for different sections of society, including the poor, youth, farmers and women.
He spoke of the Ram temple’s consecration ceremony to assert that not only did Lord Ram return home but the temple will continue to infuse new energy in India’s great cultural tradition.
Noting that his third term is merely 100-125 days away, he said even Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge is speaking of “abki baar, 400 paar”.
Kharge during his speech in Rajya Sabha had referred to the slogan raised by BJP members to apparently take a dig at the ruling party.
BJP members lustily responded with “400 paar” when Modi asked “abki baar” a few times.
“I normally do not get into numbers. But I can see the mood of the country. It will give over NDA 400 seats and at least 300 seats to the BJP,” he said.
The ruling party had won 303 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha in the 2019 general elections while the NDA had bagged 353 seats.
Modi projected 370 seats for the BJP after citing various government achievements, including the repeal of Article 370.
Amid INDIA bloc infighting, he said a “bhanumati ka kunba” (disparate alliance) was put together but its members are now saying “ekla chalo” (go alone), an apparent reference to the TMC decision not to have an alliance with the Congress in West Bengal.
Someone became a motor mechanic but could not effect alignment in the alliance, he said in another dig at Rahul Gandhi who had met a group of mechanics recently.
With the Congress and other parties raising the OBC pitch, Modi said they question about the number of backward officials in different posts but cannot see the biggest OBC, referring to himself.
Amid the charge that the BJP is also full of leaders promoting dynastic politics, he said if members of a family do well in politics on their own strength with people’s support, his party has never called it dynastic politics.
Amit Shah or Rajnath Singh do not run their own political parties, he said after some opposition members mentioned the names of the Union ministers.
Dynastic politics is when a family runs a party and promotes its own members, he said, adding that otherwise even if 10 members of a family enter politics, he welcomes them.
“When it is certain that after one member, his or her son will become its president, then it is a threat to democracy,” he said.
The Congress changed its leader but it continues to have the same tape recorder, he added.
When TMC’s Saugata Roy questioned the absence of minorities’ issues in President Droupadi Murmu’s address, Modi retorted whether all steps taken by his government for women, farmers, youths and others do not benefit them.
“How long will you think divisively and divide the country,” Modi said.
Noting that the opposition often makes light of his assertion that India will be the third largest global economy in his third term claiming it is no big deal and will happen on its pace, Modi said the then UPA government finance minister in his interim budget in 2014 had projected three decades for India to achieve the same status.
The prime minister took a swipe at P Chidambaram, the then finance minister, saying he considers himself as the biggest economist in the universe. The Congress leader was also full of self-praise about India becoming the 11th largest economy at that time, while it is now the 5th largest, he said.
It is “Modi’s guarantee” that India will become the third largest economy in his third term. At the pace of the Congress government, it would have taken 100 years to build 4 crore houses that have been constructed under his dispensation in the past 10 years, he said.