Prime Minister Narendra Modi slammed the new opposition front on Tuesday, saying alliances built on negativity have never succeeded and asserting that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will return to power for a third consecutive term, bagging more than 50 per cent of the vote share.
Addressing a meeting of the 39 NDA constituents, Modi said the ruling alliance recently completed 25 years, which was the legacy of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee shaped by L K Advani, who continued to guide the group.
Modi acknowledged the contributions made by veteran leaders, such as Parkash Singh Badal, Balasaheb Thackeray, Sharad Yadav, Ajit Singh, George Fernandes, Ram Vilas Paswan, saying they gave strength to the NDA.
"The true followers of Badal and Thackeray are also here amongst us," he said, referring to the presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Shiromani Akali Dal faction leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa at the meeting.
Nationalist Congress Party leaders Ajit Pawar and Praful Patel, the newest entrants to the NDA, were also present at the meeting.
In NDA, 'N' stands for a 'New India', 'D' for a 'Developed Nation' and 'A' for the 'Aspirations' of people and regions, Modi said and described the coalition as one of contribution and not of compulsion.
"I can make mistakes, but I will not do anything with ill-intention," he said.
"I assure you that I will leave no stone unturned in my hard work and efforts. Every particle of my body, every moment of my time is dedicated to the country," he added.
Launching a broadside against the opposition, Modi said in Kerala, the Left and the Congress are baying for each other's blood, but in Bengaluru, they are hugging each other.
He said in West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress is attacking the Left and Congress workers, but the leaders of those parties are mum.
"Their reality is for the people to see. They can come close but cannot walk together," the prime minister said.
Setting the tone for their 2024 Lok Sabha polls campaign, 26 opposition parties on Tuesday formed a coalition -- Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) -- to unitedly take on the ruling NDA., with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi asserting that the fight will be 'between INDIA and Prime Minister Narendra Modi'.
Striking an emotional chord and reaching out to the Bharatiya Janata Party's allies, Modi said there could have been times when due to his engagements, he might not have returned some calls to some of those who tried to contact him or some might not have got an appropriate space during his visits to different states due to security reasons.
"Their names may be missing from some invites and things like these might have happened in the last nine years," he said, asserting that the alliance partners, however, never complained.
Mistakes might have been made, he said, adding that the affection of the allies for him never ebbed and their confidence and love for him were his biggest assets.
BJP president J P Nadda and his team will work on the suggestions put forward by the alliance partners during the meeting, Modi said.
"We will work like a team to fulfil the country's aspirations and hopes and move on with unity, self-confidence and resolve," he said, expressing confidence about the NDA's win in next year's parliamentary polls and getting people's blessings due to the alliance's work and dedication for the masses.
"The Congress used alliances in the 1990s to bring instability in the country. The Congress formed governments and also pulled them down. During this time, in 1998, the NDA was formed. The NDA was not formed to throw any government out of power, but to bring stability to the country," Modi said.
"Even when we were in the opposition, we always did positive politics. In the opposition, we brought out scams of the then governments, but never insulted the mandate of the people. We never took the help of foreign powers against the ruling governments. We never created hurdles in development schemes meant for the country," he added.
The prime minister asserted that when there is a stable government, decisions that change the direction of the nation are taken.
"We saw it during Atalji's tenure and we are seeing this in the last nine years. Due to a stable government, the confidence of the world in India has gone up," he said.
Modi said even when the NDA was in the opposition, it never created roadblocks in the country's development.
He said many opposition governments do not allow central schemes to be implemented in their states and if implemented, they are not allowed to gather pace.
"When an alliance is formed due to the compulsion of power, when an alliance is formed with the intention of corruption, when an alliance is based on dynastic politics, when an alliance is formed keeping in mind casteism and regionalism, then that alliance is very harmful for the country," the prime minister said.
He said it was the NDA government that conferred Bharat Ratna on former president Pranab Mukherjee, who served all his life in the Congress.
Modi said the NDA government also honoured its political rivals, such as Mulayam Singh Yadav, Sharad Pawar, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Tarun Gogoi, S C Jamir and Muzaffar Beig, with Padma awards.
Thirty-nine parties are part of the NDA and as their leaders reached the venue earlier, they were welcomed with flower bouquets and stoles amid dhol beats.
Earlier, Modi was welcomed by BJP president J P Nadda, Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, former Tamil Nadu chief minister and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Edappadi K Palaniswami, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and former Bihar chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha leader Jitan Ram Manjhi.
The prime minister greeted the NDA leaders at the venue.
Modi hugged Lok Janshakti Party-Ram Vilas leader Chirag Paswan after the latter greeted him and touched his feet.