Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday challenged the Opposition to name its prime ministerial candidate before the last phase of polling for the Lok Sabha election, and said the BJP would win more seats than it did in 2014.
At a press conference at the BJP headquarters here, he said that if the Opposition was so sure of its victory, it should have no trouble in naming a prime ministerial candidate. “2014 was about [Narendra] Modi versus Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi. In 2019, it is Modi versus who? That is unknown.” “If they are claiming [victory], they should say who will lead them. People should not be kept in the dark in a healthy democracy...,” he said. The Opposition should not play hide and seek,” he said.
For the first time in many years, Mr. Rajnath said, the Modi government had made price rise a non-issue in election. “The government holds the welfare of the last man in the queue, development and national security as its three pillars of governance,” he said.
Asked about a likely meeting of Opposition leaders, he said they were unable to elect a leader as they knew that they would not get a majority. The seventh and last phase of polling for the general election is due on May 19. The votes will be counted on May 23.
As for the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh, he said his party had earlier thought it to be an “effective” combine, but it fizzled out and the BJP now set a target of 74 of the 80 seats in the State.
Mr. Singh accused the Congress of “weakening” India’s battle against terrorism and criticised the party for having coined terms like ‘Hindu terror’ and ‘saffron terror’. He said all parties should stand together on such an issue. The BJP government, he said, was doing well in “all theatres of national security,” a perquisite for development.
To a question about a Time magazine article dubbing Mr. Modi as “divider in chief”, he said the Prime Minister wanted to take everybody along. In a swipe at the Opposition, Mr. Singh said its leaders were “dividers in chief” as “they seek votes of the minorities by creating a sense of fear among them,” while his party wanted them to have a sense of confidence.
He also condemned BSP chief Mayawati for her personal attack on Mr. Modi. To a question about her claim that the BJP was a sinking ship and RSS workers were missing from its campaign, he said it was the BSP that had become a “sinking ship”.
He added that the RSS was a “socio-cultural organisation” that did not take part in political campaigns.