For the best experience, open
on your mobile browser or Download our App.

At Joint Press Conference With Akhilesh, Rahul Challenges BJP's Number Propaganda

Responding to the prime minister's 'char sau paar' claim, the Congress leader claimed that the BJP will struggle to cross 150 seats.
Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav. Photo: Screengrab from video

New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday (April 17) too joined the game of psychological warfare that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched by claiming 400-plus seats for the ruling alliance, by declaring that the Bharatiya Janata Party will struggle to cross 150 seats, falling way behind the halfway mark of 272 in the Lok Sabha.

Addressing a joint press conference with Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav in Ghaziabad on Wednesday morning, Rahul said, “I don’t make predictions on seats. But 15-20 days ago, I thought the BJP will reach 180. But now I believe they will get around 150 seats. We are getting inputs from every state that our electioneering is improving. There is an undercurrent (in our favour).”

This appeared to a planned intervention by Rahul to contest the perception of Modi’s invincibility created by the media that has lapped up the “char sau paar” rhetoric. The electoral discourse has revolved around this figure even as the ground reality indicates trouble for the BJP in many states. Apart from the tangible discontent among farmers in Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh, the anger of the Rajput community originating from Gujarat reached other states. Only yesterday, Rajputs from Western Uttar Pradesh took a public pledge to oppose BJP candidates, creating newer problems for the ruling party. The opposition group INDIA sensed an opening in the battle of perceptions and chose to place an alternative number on the table, whittling it down from 370 for the BJP to 150. The prime minister had said the BJP will get 370 and the NDA will cross 400.

Illustration: Pariplab Chakraborty

Akhilesh sang the same tune of a sinking BJP, declaring that the INDIA victory was a certainty. Though he didn’t use a specific number, Akhilesh said, “Shaandar vidai hogi (There will be a splendid farewell). PDA (Picchda-Dalit-Alpsankhyak) will defeat BJP. INDIA will form the next government. The wind blowing from Western Uttar Pradesh (which will witness polling in the first phase) will spread across the country. In Uttar Pradesh, the opposition alliance is going to sweep from Ghaziabad to Gazipur. Farmers are angry, unemployment has peaked, all the promises made by the BJP remain unfulfilled. Morality bubble has burst; electoral bonds thoroughly exposed the government. The BJP has become the godown of the corrupt. The BJP’s identity rests on ‘jhooth and loot’.”

Apart from challenging the BJP’s 400-plus narrative, these two young leaders also targeted Modi’s self-created hype on the crusade against corruption. While Akhilesh insisted that “lies and loot” had become the BJP’s identity, Rahul described Modi as a “champion of bhrastachar (corruption)”. Accusing Modi of indulging in distraction round-the-clock, he said, “In a scripted interview recently, Modi said the electoral bond scheme was introduced for transparency and to clean up politics. If that is true, why did the Supreme Court scrap the scheme? Why were the names of the donors hidden if transparency was the purpose? Contracts worth thousands of crore were awarded after receiving payments through electoral bonds. Enquiries by the CBI-ED were stopped after payments made to BJP. On the streets, it is called extortion. The whole country knows what is going on, every businessman knows. Modi bhrastachar ka champion hai.”

Rahul also explained the key features of the Congress manifesto, insisting that exceptional measures were promised to empower farmers, women and youth. He also referred to the Modi government favouring the Adani group, and flawed GST implementation and demonetisation destroying the job scene in the country. Asked about Amethi, he said, “I will do whatever the Central Election Committee and the Congress president will decide.” Party insiders reveal that while Sonia Gandhi herself is keen that Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi should both contest Amethi and Raebareli, the dominant opinion in the party is that their refusal to contest will send a wrong signal. But it is almost final that both Rahul and Priyanka will contest, giving a strong fillip to the INDIA campaign in Uttar Pradesh and some other states of the Hindi heartland.

The question of dynasty also cropped up at the press conference. To a question about Modi’s charge that he was fighting to save the country while the opposition coalition was fighting to protect the families, Akhilesh said, “Today is the auspicious day of Ramnavami and let the BJP take a pledge that they will neither give ticket to any family member, nor seek vote from any family man or women.”

Make a contribution to Independent Journalism
facebook twitter