The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday dismissed the opposition’s chances at upcoming elections after hundreds of thousands of people attended a weekend rally bringing together 23 disparate parties opposed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Massive job losses and farm distress have damaged the aura of invincibility Modi and his ruling BJP had until recently as the world’s biggest democracy approaches a general election due by May.
But the opposition suffers too from a perceived lack of leadership, so sought to project unity at Saturday’s rally and bind forces against Modi’s Hindu nationalist party.
They have not, however, presented a candidate to replace him, saying their first priority was to defeat Modi.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, a top BJP leader and government troubleshooter, said a “presidential style vote casting Modi against an opposition coalition would help BJP. Every General Election has its own script that is dictated by the prevailing political environment.”
He said Opposition politics has thrown up at least four desirous Prime Ministers (Mamata Banerjee, Rahul Gandhi, Mayawati and KCR) wishing to challenge Narendra Modi.
He said the anti-Modi rally organised by Opposition parties in Kolkata, became significantly “a non-Rahul Gandhi rally,” by his conspicuous absence. “All four ambitious politicians pursue fanciful strategies to replace PM Narendra Modi. However, Congress can at best dream only to be a pillion rider.”
The main opposition party Congress has already ruled out naming its leader Rahul Gandhi, scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that has dominated Indian politics for decades, as a prime ministerial candidate before the election.
“It is obvious that the level of satisfaction with PM Shri Narendra Modi ji is very high. If that weren’t so, what was the need for multiple disparate forces to come together against him? Jaitley said.
“The opposition is making Prime Minister Modi’s continuation in office as a key political issue. We in the BJP welcome this agenda being set by the opposition,” Jaitley said on Twitter.
“What has been presented by the opposition is a post-election leadership battle, no common programme, no policy and a disastrous memory of their administrative disabilities … It is only the fear of (Modi’s) popularity and comeback that is bringing (them) together.”