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Modi holds first press meet as PM; says his return to power is a given

Poornima Joshi Poornima Joshi New Delhi | Updated on May 17, 2019 Published on May 17, 2019

The gloves are off Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress President Rahul Gandhi at press conferences held at their respective party offices in New Delhi on Friday   -  Kamal Narang/PTI

New Delhi: Congress President Rahul Gandhi addresses a press conference at the party headquarter in New Delhi, Friday, May 17, 2019. (PTI Photo/Kamal Singh) (PTI5_17_2019_000096B)   -  PTI

Rahul Gandhi dubs event a farce; taunts PM for not taking any questions from media

The last day of the Lok Sabha election campaign saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveying a sense of continuum and inevitability of his victory through the first and last press conference of his tenure, with BJP President Amit Shah repeating at least three times that the party is winning “over 300 seats”.

With one last phase and 59 more seats to poll, Modi and Shah pushed the BJP’s punch-line “Ayega to Modi hee (Only Modi will come)”, with the Prime Minister giving the impression that the battle was all done and dusted.

Simultaneous press meet

In sharp contrast, Congress President Rahul Gandhi was ambiguous, refusing to say whether he expects to win or the BJP to lose. In a press conference addressed almost simultaneously, Rahul was acerbic, painting Modi’s press conference as a farce as he did not take any questions.

“It is great that they are claiming 300 seats. I am not going to speculate on the people’s verdict. And I have a complaint to the media. You ask me so many hard questions. Grill the PM also sometimes, ask him some questions. It’s great and ‘unprecedented’, as some of you are claiming, that Modiji is addressing a press conference.

“Some journalists who asked me tough questions could have gone there also. But they bolted the door it seems,” said Rahul.

Modi and Shah focused on building the narrative that there is no doubt about the BJP’s victory with the PM striking a relaxed, triumphant note. Modi even gave a clue about the strategy he and Shah work on.

The grand plan

“We plan in detail. Nothing happens on its own. Nothing is a coincidence. I started my campaign in Meerut, from where the revolution of 1857 began, and ended it today in Madhya Pradesh, where the martyrdom of Bhima Naik is commemorated. So it is all going according to plan. We have decided on many issues and policies in our manifesto and we will start our work soon,” he said.

The PM further said the campaign is a way of “seeking people’s blessings and thanksgiving for all the support”. “We started a journey in 2014 and were blessed by people. We will continue with this journey and I can see that people are ready. We have the people’s support,” he said.

‘Rigorous campaign’

The PM did not take any questions, letting Shah address them.The latter gave details of the 142 public rallies, four road shows and 1.5 crore people that Modi has personally contacted in the “hardest, most rigorous campaign ever”.

Shah repeated — thrice — his claim of winning 300 seats. In answer to a question about whether the BJP will talk to more alliance partners, he said: “We have a pre-poll alliance and NDA is forming the government again. If anyone wants to join us, they are welcome.”

Published on May 17, 2019
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