New Delhi: With less than two days before counting of votes in the Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended a meeting and dinner hosted by BJP chief Amit Shah for partners of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Almost all the exit polls have projected that the alliance will achieve a clear majority in the Lok Sabha and will form the government.
The dinner was attended by Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) president Nitish Kumar, Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray, Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ram Vilas Paswan among others.
With the NDA family.
Our alliance represents India's diversity and our agenda is India's progress.
We are best suited to address regional aspirations and enhance national progress. pic.twitter.com/iKNgv2e898— Chowkidar Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 21, 2019
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that 36 allies attended the dinner and the three that failed to turn up had pledged their support "in writing". After the dinner held at the Ashoka Hotel, Singh told reporters that the NDA has vowed to fulfil the aspirations of the people and take the country forward.
“Amit Shah and PM Modi thanked all those who worked hard during the elections,” Singh said. “The PM said that the NDA represents the true soul of India.”
A resolution passed at the meeting termed the Lok Sabha elections decisive and pledged to make a strong, developed and inclusive India by 2022. In his address, Modi stressed on the need to change the narrative from caste lines and orient it for the poor, Singh said.
Singh said the resolution also condemned the violence in West Bengal, which voted in seven phases. Incidents of violence marred each phase of the elections in the eastern state, with three deaths reported. The BJP has blamed the ruling Trinamool Congress in the state of inciting violence.
"We strongly condemn the culture of political violence in West Bengal and Kerala. We are equally concerned with the systematic assault by the opposition on institutions ranging from the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General), Election Commission and judiciary to the police and armed forces," the resolution said.
Modi expressed concern over the "needless controversy" created by Opposition parties over the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs), said the resolution.
"We discussed EVMs and the Election Commission... it is worrisome for us that they are being targeted," said Singh.
Several Opposition leaders have raised questions over EVMs, particularly after a few incidents of EVMs being transported allegedly without any security were reported from Uttar Pradesh. The EC has described these allegations as “baseless and frivolous”. Earlier on Tuesday, leaders of 22 opposition parties also met EC officials and demanded verification of VVPAT slips of randomly-selected polling stations before votes are counted.
The NDA dinner was followed by a meeting in which nearly two dozen allies felicitated Modi with a shawl. Top NDA leaders shared the dais with Modi, who was flanked by Shah on one side and Shiromani Akali Dal’s Parkash Singh Badal on the other. Badal is the senior-most leader of the alliance.
BJP ally and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who proposed the resolution said that Modi had taken all allies together. "We will win more seats than predicted in the exit polls," Paswan added.
Before the dinner, Modi attended a meeting of the Union council of ministers called by Shah to thank them for "their service to the nation".
Terming the election "unique", Modi said the polls were above politics and were being "fought by the people" of the country. Among those who attended were Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Smriti Irani, Prakash Javadekar, Radha Mohan Singh, Piyush Goyal, Giriraj Singh, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Chaudhary Birendra Singh, Uma Bharti as well as Shiromani Akali Dal's Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Paswan. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was not present at the meeting.
Modi meets bureaucrats
The Prime Minister on Tuesday night held a meeting with top bureaucrats from key ministries, sources said. There was no official word about the agenda of the meeting, which comes ahead of the Lok Sabha election results on May 23.
Sources said the Prime Minister is believed to have taken feedback on various issues, including about the state of the economy, from the bureaucrats. The government has already asked all the ministries and departments to prepare their 100-day agenda, they added.
(With inputs from agencies)