BJP chief Amit Shah has likened the forthcoming Lok Sabha election to the Third Battle of Panipat, cautioning party cadre not to be complacent like the Marathas who lost the 1761 battle that “led to 200 years of slavery” in India. Delivering the inaugural address at the BJP national convention here on Friday, Shah said, “Battles are of various types…there are some battles that have an impact for decades. 2019 battle is one which will have an impact for decades… The Marathas won several battles. Then came the Third Battle of Panipat… Unfortunately, the Marathas lost the battle… The Maratha army that had won 131 battles but lost one battle that led to 200 years of slavery for the country. The English ruled over us for 200 years… Today it is a similar battle.”
The BJP president emphasised that the party is fighting an “ideological battle” in 2019 with cultural nationalism, antyodaya and welfare of the poor as its goal, while the opposition is a group of parties which has no leader or policy. The two-day national convention is being held on an unprecedented scale with around 10,000 office-bearers from panchayats to district, state and national level attending it. All BJP MPs, MLAs, MLCs and mayors are participating in the conclave that is themed ‘Abki Baar Phir Modi Sarkar’ (Modi government once again). Shah underlined the recent achievements of the Narendra Modi government and played up the 10% quota for the economically backward, the relief in goods and services tax to traders having turnover of up to Rs 40 lakh, and the Ram Mandir issue in his speech.
His mention of the temple issue drew a long applause from the crowd at the Ramleela ground. “BJP wants that a grand Ram temple is built at Ayodhya as soon as possible,” he said. The party’s official stand, as stated by the prime minister, is that it will wait for the Supreme Court verdict on the issue. In the presence of Modi and the top leadership, Shah said it was at the same venue that a pledge to get 272+ seats was taken by the party in 2014 and this time the pledge to make Modi PM again is being taken by them. However, he made no mention of the recent defeats in assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in his 45-minute speech. Shah claimed that the party will repeat its 2014 performance in Uttar Pradesh and get 73-74 seats in 2019 polls from the state. His remarks came on the eve of the proposed announcement of an alliance in UP by Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati on Saturday.
Shah also attacked Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, alleging somebody out on bail in a case does not have the right to question Modi on corruption. He said the people of the country know better than Gandhi about Modi’s credentials and will not be misled.