Leaders of 38 BJP allied parties gathered on Tuesday evening in the grand show of strength by the National Democratic Alliance in Delhi, shortly after 26 opposition parties met in Bengaluru. The BJP-NDA allies deliberated on the strategy on how to get a 'much bigger mandate' in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections at a time when the opposition parties are putting up a united front to challenge the ruling party.
Addressing the NDA gathering, Prime Minister Narendra Modi slammed the Opposition's efforts to team up with regional parties. "NDA unites people of the country, opposition parties divide them," he said. "When an alliance is dynastic and corrupt, the country will lose". As expected, Modi also countered the Opposition's I.N.D.I.A -- which is supposed to represent the voice of the nation -- with his 'Bharat', made of the poor and the marginalised classes that the NDA represents.
In another veiled attack on Congress, the PM said, "NDA always pursued positive politics even when in opposition, we never took the help of foreign powers."
PM Modi also exuded confidence and said that the world's faith in India has grown because of the "stable and strong government". "It is a beautiful rainbow of regional aspirations," he added.
Earlier in the day, the PM tweeted, "It is a matter of immense joy that our valued NDA partners from across India will be attending the meeting in Delhi today. Ours is a time-tested alliance which seeks to further national progress and fulfil regional aspirations."
He arrived at 'The Ashok Hotel' in Delhi where the meeting will take place, as BJP president JP Nadda and other leaders welcomed him. Other Union ministers and ally party leaders also started arriving for the meeting.
A day before the event, Nadda told a press conference, "The NDA will resolve that the country will again elect its government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership."
The NDA meeting is taking place shortly after the two-day conclave of 26 opposition parties in Bengaluru concluded today. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge announced in a press briefing afterwards that the Opposition alliance to challenge the BJP-led Centre will be called INDIA, short for Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance.
Who all are with BJP?
The key allies of BJP include AIADMK and Tamil Manila Congress in Tamil Nadu and Shiv Sena (Eknath Shinde faction) and Ajit Pawar faction of the NCP in Maharashtra.
Besides, the BJP has been eyeing the state of Bihar and attempt of reconciliation between Chirag Paswan and his uncle Ram Chandra Pawan is in place as it will give it access to the six per cent Paswan votes.
As per media reports, three more parties from Bihar including Upendra Singh Kushwaha of the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party, and Mukesh Sahani of the Vikassheel Insaan Party and Jitan Ram Manjhi of Hindustani Awam Morcha, are expected to join the NDA. Meanwhile, the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party of Om Prakash Rajbhar became the newest ally of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh.
BJP is also keeping the northeastern allies close. The list of seven parties that help the BJP govern the seven northeastern states includes NPP (National People's Party Meghalaya), NDPP (Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party), SKM (Sikkim Krantikari Morcha), MNF (Mizo National Front), ITFT (Tripura), BPP (Bodo People's Party) and AGP (Asom Gana Parishad).
Except the ones in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, actor Pawan Kalyan's Jan Sena and the faction of Kerala Congress led by Kerala Congress (Thomas) are also seen as the new entrants.
Nadda slams Opposition unity drive
Slamming the Opposition alliance, Nadda said on Monday, "It is a 'bhanumati ka kunba' (motley group), an opportunistic alliance. It has no agenda, commitment and vision. Their only aim is to grab power and serve their own interests." The BJP president also later added that NDA is driven by the ideology of national interest and people's welfare by taking along all sections of society.
"It has been cobbled together with a selfish motive to protect these leaders from cases of corruption of more than Rs 20 lakh crore during the UPA government, he said. This is just a good photo opportunity", he said.
Nadda praises Modi regime
Emphasising on the Centre's policy of zero tolerance towards corruption, Nadda said the NDA has followed it and consequently, there is not a single allegation of corruption against the Modi government in the past nine years.
Citing the poverty rate coming down from 22 per cent to below 10 per cent and the rate of extreme poverty is now less than one per cent, Nadda praised the economic reforms and welfare schemes implemented by the government in the last nine years.
Nadda asserted that the NDA is an alliance not to grab power but to serve the country and the people. "The NDA is an alliance to strengthen and unite the country and to take the nation forward," he said.
Nadda said the NDA has expanded due to its welfare policies and decision taken in the interest of the country by the government of Prime Minister Modi, drawing more and more people and parties into its fold.
To a question on whether the BJP's former allies such as the Akali Dal and the Telugu Desam Party will also join the NDA, he said it is up to them and claimed that the decision to leave the alliance with his party was theirs. The BJP never asked them to go, he said.
The BJP president also lashed out at the Congress for its suggestion that the ruling party was bringing together its allies due to the unity exercise in opposition ranks. The NDA just completed its 25 years of existence, he said, mocking Congress leaders for their "ignorance".