Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday linked opposition parties coming together against the Bharatiya Janata Party to his government's campaign against corruption, and asserted that the clampdown on graft will continue without being hindered by "false allegations".
After inaugurating an extension of the BJP headquarters in New Delhi, Modi said that at a time when India's strength is rising to a new high, it is natural that "anti-India" forces within and outside the country will join hands.
"Some parties have launched bhrashtachari bachao abhiyan (save the corrupt campaign)," he said in a blistering attack on opposition parties protesting against the alleged misuse of probe agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's disqualification from Lok Sabha following his conviction in a criminal defamation case has also become a rallying point for the Opposition.
Modi said, "The country will not bend nor will the action against corruption stop due to false allegations."
The "anti-India" forces are attacking constitutional institutions as they are the strong "foundation" of a rising India, he said. And, to stop the country's growth, they are resorting to attacking its foundation and are engaged in conspiracies to defame bodies such as the judiciary and probe agencies and destroy their credibility, he said.
When agencies act against those involved in corruption, they are targeted and when courts deliver a verdict not to the liking of these forces, they are questioned, the prime minister said.
"Some people are bound to get angry when we act so much against corruption," he said.
Never before in the history of independent India, such a big campaign against corruption has taken place and it has rattled the corrupt. "All those involved in corruption have come onto one platform," he said, asserting that people realise that when the BJP comes to power, corruption goes away.
Citing figures, Modi said that during the Congress-led UPA rule between 2004 and 2014, assets worth Rs 5,000 crore were seized under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, while the figure has zoomed to Rs 1.10 lakh crore in the nine years of BJP rule.
The cases registered under the act more than doubled under his government while the number of the arrests surged 15 times, he said.
Under the Congress rule, banks were "looted" and people accused of siphoning off Rs 22,000 crore fled abroad, he said, adding that his government has seized their assets worth Rs 20,000 crore.
The Central Bureau of Investigation has registered more than 5,000 cases under corruption charges under his government and hundreds of senior officials facing graft allegations were forcibly retired and are facing lawful action, Modi said.
Corruption has harmed the country a great deal and hollowed it out like termites, he said, adding that people realise that the country will progress only when graft is contained.
People, Modi asserted, are applauding his government's campaign against corruption and tell him wherever he goes, "Don't stop Modi ji".
Taking a swipe at the Opposition for its campaign against the BJP and him, he said senior Congress leaders used to talk about rooting out the Jana Sangh once and now the main opposition party is talking about digging his grave.
The BJP is a party which sacrificed itself to save democracy, he said, referring to the merger of the Jana Sangh, its earlier avatar, with other parties after the Emergency.
In a reference to the probe into 2002 Gujarat riots when he was the state's chief minister, Modi said many conspiracies were hatched to send him to jail but they all failed miserably while he flourished due to people's blessings.
In his speech, the prime minister dwelt on the BJP's growth from having two Lok Sabha seats in 1984 to 303 in 2019. In an apparent reference to the anti-Sikh violence following then prime minister Indira Gandhi's assassination, he said it was a black chapter that the country will not be able to forget.
The Congress won a historic mandate in an emotionally-charged polls while the BJP was almost destroyed but it did not lose hope and blame others. It continued to work among people and strengthened its organisation.
The BJP has now emerged as the only pan-India party amidst family-run political parties in the country as it worked on the ground with people braving all odds.
"BJP started its journey from just two Lok Sabha seats and reached 303 in 2019. In many of the states, we get more than 50 per cent votes," he said.
"From north to south and from east to west, the BJP is the only pan-India party today," he added.
The BJP has emerged as not only the world's biggest but also the most futuristic party, he said, adding that its only goal is to make a modern and developed India.
The party is expanding in south India, he said, adding that it is the number one party in Karnataka and is the only reliable force in Telangana. It is growing in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, he said.
"The people of the northeast have shown unprecedented faith in the BJP. It has four chief ministers there and is part of coalition governments in two other states," he said.
Modi met workers involved in the construction of the building before its inauguration.