Launching his campaign to return to power, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday asked the country to choose as its next 'pradhan sevak' either an honest and a hardworking man or those who are on vacation when needed at home and are corrupt.
In the concluding address at the Bharatiya Janata Party national convention, Modi was unsparing in attacking his rivals, especially the Congress, saying they are joining hands as they want a 'majboor' (helpless) government to do corruption while people want a 'majboot' (strong) government that the only BJP can give.
He ridiculed the likely grand alliance of opposition parties as a 'failed experiment in Indian politics', saying a campaign to give publicity to this idea is on.
The fear of chowkidar (watchman), a reference like 'pradhan sevak' he often uses to describe himself, and his campaign against black money and corruption have led to a churn in politics, he said.
Rivals are uniting against one person, he said.
Modi's remarks came on a day the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, bitter rivals for over two decades, announced in Lucknow their alliance for the Lok Sabha elections against the saffron party.
In his over 80-minute-long speech, the prime minister spoke at length about his development agenda, made a brief mention of the Ram temple issue blaming the Congress for delaying its resolution and projected his rivals as 'corrupt' against his government's 'spotless' record in office.
He claimed that for the first time in the country's history, there has not been any charge of corruption against a government.
This is now for the country to decide what kind of 'pradhan sevak' (main servant) it wants, he said.
Will the people like a servant who puts one member of the family against another, who steals household goods and distribute them among his relatives, tells neighbours about the internal matters, he asked.
"Will anybody want a servant that who is on vacation when needed at home? And nobody knows where he is," he continued.
The BJP has often taken digs at Rahul Gandhi over his vacations abroad. The prime minister, though, did not name anybody.
Modi then made a pitch for himself, presenting himself as someone who works hard day and night, is concerned about the future generation, sticks to honesty and keeps everyone united.
"The county will decide what kind of servant it wants," he said, drawing loud cheers from thousands of BJP members. Party leaders have described this as one of its biggest conventions.
He also cautioned the BJP against any complacency, saying it is said at times that 'Modi will come and deliver victory' and asked its workers to campaign like farmers work at their land.
Seeds may be good, rains may arrive and everything else may be supportive but crop would not be good if farmers do not till the land, he said, adding that the party reached where it is due to 'collective leadership'.
Targeting the Congress over corruption, he referred to the National Herald case in which Rahul and his mother Sonia Gandhi are on bail and accused them of 'grabbing land and people's money'.
The opposition party believes in protecting its 'sultanate' at any cost and its 'first family' has no respect for the country's institutions, he said, claiming that the BJP believes in the Constitution.
In this context, he hit out at the Congress over the decision of its governments in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to withdraw the general consent given to the CBI for probing cases in their state, asking what irregularities they have done that they fear it.
He said when he was Gujarat chief minister for 12 years, the United Progressive Alliance government used all institutions with an aim to put him in jail, adding that they sent BJP president Amit Shah, who was then a minister in the state government, behind bars.
He still presented himself before a district level police official for questioning for nine hours because he had faith in law and considered it above him, Modi asserted, apparently referring to cases of riots and alleged fake encounters.
"Despite being harassed by the UPA for years, I didn't ban entry of CBI in state... We believed in law. We had faith in truth," he said, targeting the Congress for its 'attack' on institutions like the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Election Commission.
"These leaders on bail have no trust either in law or in truth... Can they (Congress) be trusted with power," he asked and also blamed it for crisis in banks, saying that there was 'common process' and 'Congress process' of loans when it was in power.
While the common process was for the common man, the 'Congress process' was used by 'scamsters' closed to its leadership to swindle public money from banks, Modi said.
In an apparent reference to Rahul Gandhi and his charge of corruption against him over the Rafale issue, he said one cannot make somebody understand a point if he deliberately does not want to understand it.
The prime minister said he was being 'abused' after an accused in a defence deal -- a reference to Christian Michel -- was brought to India from abroad for the first time.
He said he would not claim that his government achieved everything but it has made honest efforts to work for all sections of society.
'Congress doesn't want resolution of Ram temple issue'
Taking on the Congress over the Ram temple issue, Modi said the opposition party was trying to impede the judicial process for resolution of the matter.
He also asked BJP workers to remind the masses about the Congress' stand on the issue.
"In the Ayodhya issue, the Congress is trying to impede the judicial process through its lawyers. The Congress does not want resolution of the Ayodhya issue," Modi said.
"We should not forget its attitude and (also) not let others forget it," he told party workers.
He was apparently referring to remarks of senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal who had said that the Supreme Court should hear the matter after conclusion of general elections this year.
Sibal is representing one of the litigants in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case.
Modi alleged that the Congress even tried to impeach former chief justice of India, Dipak Misra, to delay the hearing in the case.
Earlier this month, the prime minister had said that any decision on passing an executive order on the Ram temple issue cannot be made unless the judicial process is over.
His reaction came amid growing clamour by right-wing organisations like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Vishwa Hindu Parishad to bring an ordinance to construct the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
The matter is pending in the Supreme Court and is scheduled to come up for hearing on January 29.
'Previous govts treated farmers as vote bank, BJP working to solve their problems'
The BJP government is sincerely working to solve the problems faced by farmers, who were treated merely as vote bank by previous governments, Modi said at the saffron party's national convention.
Not only were the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission implemented by the BJP government, but its also working day and night to double their income by 2020, he said.
The condition of farmers and agriculture at present is a result of decades of 'neglect' by those (previous governments) who believed in 'shortcuts' and treated the peasants as mere vote bank, Modi said.
"The 'annadata' (provider of food) was turned into a 'matadata' (voter). We are making sincere efforts to empower them. We want to make farmers the carriers of new energy of a new India," he said.
Modi alleged that the demand to provide farmers a minimum support price (MSP) 1.5 times the production cost was buried in the files earlier.
"We are making all efforts with the help of the state governments to clear the hurdles in providing farmers MSP 1.5 times the cost of production," he said.
The prime minister further claimed that his government had procured 95 metric tonnes of pulses during 4.5 years of its rule compared to only 7 metric tonnes of pulses and oilseeds procured by the previous dispensation in five years.
"Now you do not find any breaking news on soaring prices of pulses. It's because we adopted a long-term policy," Modi said.
There is so much more needed to be done, he said citing issues like loans of farmers and rising input costs.
"I won't say all the problems have been solved. I realise so much more is to be done," he said.
'Quota for general category poor will boost confidence of new India'
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the bill to give 10 per cent reservation in jobs and education to the general category poor will boost the 'self-confidence of new India', asserting that existing quota policy for SCs, STs and OBCs is as strong as it was and will remain so.
In an apparent attack on some opposition parties, he said that they are trying to light a 'fire of discontent' by spreading 'confusion' over the issue and asked party workers to foil such a conspiracy.
He seemed to be referring to reported claims of some BJP rivals that the general category quota may harm the reservation meant for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes besides Other Backward Classes.
"Without taking away the existing quota and without any tinkering with it, this 10 per cent reservation has been given," the PM said in his concluding address at the BJP convention.
"This will further boost the confidence of new India," he said, adding that it will give a new dimension to the aspirations of the general category poor who were not getting equal opportunity.
"The general category poor cannot be neglected," he said.
The number of seats in education institutions will also be increased by 10 per cent, he said. It is done to ensure that the increased quota does not eat into the share of those from the unreserved category.
Choice is between stability & instability for voters in LS polls, says BJP resolution
The choice for voters in the Lok Sabha polls will be between 'stability' and 'instability' with an 'honest and courageous' leader in Prime Minister Narendra Modi challenged by an 'opportunist alliance' whose leader is unknown, says the BJP political resolution passed on Saturday.
The resolution, which was passed at the party's national convention held in New Delhi, noted that party workers should draw the 'right lessons' from the recent results of state assembly elections.
Briefing reporters about the resolution, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the only glue binding the likely alliance of opposition parties was their 'hatred for Modi'.
The resolution speaks of instability that the opposition alliance may usher at the Centre if it is elected to power, he said referring to short tenures of prime ministers, from four months to a year, in the 1990s, such as that of Chandra Shekhar, H D Deve Gowda and I K Gujral.
"The country has to decide where it has to go," Prasad said, adding the Modi government had ushered in stability, development and growth with India now seen as an emerging global power and the prime minister as a global leader.
The resolution also said people have to chose between stability and instability.
'Choice is between stability or instability, between an honest and courageous leader, and a leaderless opportunistic alliance, 'majboot' (strong) government or a 'majboor' (helpless) government,' the party said in the document.
On the outcome of the assembly polls in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the political resolution said the party saw the same with 'a mixed feeling', and that the National Council compliments the hard work of party workers in each state.
'All the BJP state governments have given exemplary record of development and good governance. We shall surely draw the right lessons, but surely this will serve as an inspiration for the party workers and cadres to work with renewed vigour in the Lok Saha elections,' the resolution said.
Describing the 'mahagathbandhan' (opposition alliance) as a 'comical alliance', the saffron party said it was a grand alliance of 'desperate, contradictory and opportunistic' political formations which were being raised to take on the prime minister, Bharatiya Janata Party and National Democratic Alliance.
'They neither have any agenda for India and its people nor any leader. The only glue is the hatred against Narendra Modi. This in many ways also exposes the limitations of the constituents of this opportunistic alliance,' the resolution stated.
Exuding confidence that the people of the country will re-elect Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP appealed the voters, especially the first timers, to participate in the coming elections with full enthusiasm and support the vision of the prime minister to make India a great country.
LS polls a fight between dictatorship and democracy: Cong on PM 'majboor-vs-majboot sarkar' remark
Hitting back at Modi over his remarks that people have to chose between a 'majboor' (helpless) and a 'majboot' (strong) government in the upcoming general election, the Congress on Saturday said the 2019 Lok Sabha polls would be a fight between dictatorship and democracy.
On Modi's attack on states ruled by opposition parties for withdrawing the general consent to the CBI and his remarks that he had not resorted to such a measure when he was targeted by central agencies under the UPA rule, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari retorted, saying investigating bodies were not used as a political tool under his party's rule to target rivals.
Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh have withdrawn the general consent to the Central Bureau of Investigation in these states.
Tewari said, while in his over-an-hour-long speech, Modi spoke on a host of issues, including launching several attacks on the Congress, he skipped key 'achievements' like demonetisation, the employment he had promised to generate and the agrarian distress across the country.
"Lok Sabha 2019 will not be a battle between a majboor sarkar and a majboot sarkar, it is a fight between dictatorship and democracy. It is a battle between 'bhashan' (speeches) and 'prashasan' (administration) and it is going to be a test of 'jumla' versus impeccable track record of service which the Congress has delivered for years," he said.
Targeting the government over the state of internal security, he said Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had stated that there was no big terror attack during the BJP rule.
"If this was to be true, then what was the Uri attack, where 19 soldiers were killed in a terror strike, and the Pathankot terror strike?" Tewari asked.
Both the terror attacks had taken place in 2016.
The Congress leader said the situation in the Kashmir Valley was bad and wondered what was the progress of the Naga Peace Accord, signed between the Centre and the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) in 2015.
"What is the government's policy towards Pakistan? Why is it so that our trusted friend Russia has been selling arms to Pakistan? The way American President Donald Trump has been mocking you and India's diplomacy...why is there no response from the government or the BJP?," he asked.
Last week, Trump took a jibe at Modi for funding a 'library' in Afghanistan, saying it was of no use in the war-torn country, as he criticised India and others for not doing enough for the land-locked nation's security.