Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday staked claim to form the next government after the NDA parliamentary party unanimously elected him as its leader.
At a meeting in the Central Hall of Parliament, Mr. Modi urged all NDA MPs to work in the spirit of inclusiveness and public service, namely “ Sabka saath, sabka vikas aur sabka vishwas ” [solidarity with everyone, development for all, with the trust of all].
NDA leaders, led by Mr. Modi, then met President Ram Nath Kovind to present a claim to form the government. Before his speech, Mr. Modi bowed before a copy of the Constitution been placed in the Central Hall. His speech, too, ran with the theme of constitutional values and inclusiveness.
“Our Constitution is a rich and extensive social document that encapsulates the dreams our freedom fighters had for the nation. Our only loyalty is to the Constitution and the values enshrined in it,” he said.
“A representative of the people cannot show favouritism towards anyone. We have to work for those who supported us and also those who did not in these elections with the same spirit,” he said.
Mr Modi added that his first term was an attempt to drive a dent into the miasma of poverty and in this term he wanted the NDA not only to work on those lines but also to shatter the illusion of fear that had been built around minorities in this country.
“For many years now minorities have been made to live in an atmosphere of a fake sense of fear, while bread and butter issues or development of genuine leadership within those communities was ignored, only to harvest them as a vote bank. We have to, in this term, shatter this illusion of fear. Just as in the first war of independence in 1857 all communities fought as one, and as we move towards the 75th year of independence in 2022, we have to foster the same spirit of unity and inclusiveness that prevailed at that time,” he said.
As senior NDA leaders like Parkash Singh Badal, Nitish Kumar, Ram Vilas Paswan and Uddhav Thakeray supported the resolution to elect Mr. Modi as the NDA leader, the latter spoke of fostering the spirit of the coalition.
“However strong one party becomes within a coalition, we want all of us to work in the spirit of togetherness. It is the legacy of late Atal Behari Vajpayeeji who taught us all how to run coalitions, how mutual sacrifice strengthens these bonds,” he said, a hint that allies will be accommodated within the government.
Such a government, he said, would run on two important tracks that were most important in a country of India’s size — National Ambitions and Regional Aspirations (NARA).
The NDA has 353 MPs with BJP alone accounting for 303. Mr. Modi pointed out that the increment in the BJP alone was equal to the total number of votes polled by U.S. president Donald Trump.
While welcoming the large number of first time MPs in the NDA parliamentary group, Mr. Modi sounded a note of caution to the motormouths in the pack as well as those who had a sense of entitlement of VIP treatment.
“We may do very good work as a government but one wrong sentence from you can shatter the good name of this. Beware of two tendencies, which Advaniji (senior BJP leader L.K. Advani) used to warn about — Chhapaas aur Dikhaas (the addiction to be published in papers, and to be watched on TV),” he said.
The warning comes on the heels of several such motormouths in the last Lok Sabha like Unnao MP Sakshi Maharaj, and current Bhopal MP Pragya Singh Thakur who lauded Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse, and who was later reprimanded by the party and Prime Minister Modi.
On the sense of entitlement and VIP culture, Mr. Modi urged MPs to remain down to earth. He also stressed that neither media coverage nor any middleman would have any hand in deciding who became a minister in this government (a covert reference to the Nira Radia tapes). “Whoever is authorised to take this decision will take it. I urge you not to fall prey to anyone saying that they have any influence on the process,” he said.
Ahead of his swearing-in — likely on May 30 — Mr. Modi will be travelling to Varanasi and Gujarat in the next two days.