Election 2019

Congress responsible for lowering political discourse: Rajnath Singh

Rajnath Singh

New Delhi | As the bitter Lok Sabha poll campaign heads to a close this week, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has accused the Congress of being responsible for lowering the political discourse, saying never before has the chief of the main opposition party hurled abuses like ‘Chowkidar chor hai’ at the prime minister.

Singh also predicted that the BJP will get a majority on its own and that the party-headed National Democratic Alliance (NDA) can well end up with a two-third majority. He claimed there is a “wave” in favour of the BJP in West Bengal and it could win 30 of the 42 seats at stake in the TMC-ruled state.

On the prospects of him emerging as a consensus candidate for prime ministership to get the support of regional parties for a majority if the NDA falls short of the magic number of 272, Singh said this question does not arise.

The 67-year-old BJP stalwart said he has never sought any post and that he will always abide by the decision of the party.

Asserting there is no question of anyone being the prime minister other than Narendra Modi, Singh said, “Modiji is young, energetic, visionary, dynamic so there is no question of any successor for him.” The seven-phase marathon elections concludes on May 19.

Stating there is a need for political parties to maintain high standards of poll campaign, Singh accused Congress President Rahul Gandhi of stooping low during the poll campaign and lowering the dignity of the office of the prime minister.

“Never before has the prime minister been called names by a president of a national party. ‘Chowkidar chor hai’ slogan was given by Gandhi. This was wrong as prime minister is a prime minister after all,” Singh told PTI in an interview on Sunday.

When reminded about sloganeering against Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi when they were prime ministers, Singh said, “it must be a slogan by an ordinary party worker and never by a party president of any national party.”

Singh sidestepped questions on the accusations by the Congress that it was Modi who lowered the political discourse.

“President or Prime Minister are not any individuals. They are an institutions in itself and in democracy we should ensure that the dignity of the institutions is not lowered. This should be a cause of concern for everyone as otherwise democracy in the country will weaken,” he said. “Congress should not have stooped so low by abusing the prime minister.”

Singh, a former BJP president and Uttar Pradesh chief minister, said the BJP was on course to retain power with a comfortable majority and could increase its 2014 tally of 282. The strength of the BJP-led NDA in the outgoing Lok Sabha is 337.

Unfazed by the alliance of arch rivals Samajwadi Party(SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party(BSP) in Uttar Pradesh, Singh feels it will not hurt the prospects of the BJP and that it will win around the same number as in 2014.The NDA won 73 out of the 80 seats at stake in this politically crucial state with the BJP accounting for 71.

Singh said people can see through the motive of the alliance between the SP and BSP. “Both the parties have enjoyed power in UP for long and they have no credibility among the masses. People are aware that this coalition is only limited to stop the Modi juggernaut,” he said.

He said after the formation of this alliance, the credibility of the BSP and the SP has gone further down. “Anything which has been done with a negative mindset will not yield any positive results…the alliance myth will be shattered on the day of results”.

About the impact of Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi in Uttar Pradesh politics, Singh said “let us not talk about this because Congress has no prospect at all”.

Asked whether the BJP will enlist the support of regional parties like the TRS or YSR Congress or BJD, Singh, who entered politics in 1977, sought to use the concept of atom in his response.

Singh, a former Physics teacher, said the BJP-led NDA was the nucleus–dense central core of the atom–and does not require any electrons, which are outside the nucleus. He, however, hastened to add that the BJP was always happy in maintaining good relations with anyone.

Singh also claimed that the BJP will throw a surprise in West Bengal winning a majority of seats. “There is a wave in West Bengal and our tally can go upto a maximum of 30 seats,” he said. The BJP currently has 2 seats.

To a question about the BJP hyping ultra nationalism in the poll campaign in the backdrop of the Balakot air strikes, Singh made it clear that his party was committed to ensure that issues relating to armed forces will never be a poll issue.

“But at times our soldiers have done some exemplary work, praising their hardwork is not a crime. We have done it in the past and we will do it in future. We are not doing it during elections only”.

To a question on what is wrong if Congress chose to praise soldiers and not Modi for the Balakot operation, he countered, “If Indira Gandhi was credited for the 1971 victory in the war with Pakistan, why can’t Modi be given credit for carrying out a successful anti-terror operation on the soil of Pakistan.”

“Atal Bihari Vajpayee has often praised Indira Gandhi especially after the victory of 1971. The present opposition should have a large heart like Atalji,” he said.

On the likely outcome for the Congress in the Lok Sabha polls, Singh gave a sarcastic response. “It is a constant worry for us even in this Lok Sabha too we may not have a leader of opposition. But I wish them best of luck for the next polls.”

The Congress bagged only 44 seats in the 2014 polls to emerge as the single largest opposition party but could not stake claim for the status of Leader of the Opposition(LoP) in the Lower House as at least 10 per cent of the total strength of the House (55 seats) is required.

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