Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday hit out at opposition parties, saying the fear of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity and his return to power has brought them together but said this won’t work in the Lok Sabha polls as Modi remains the most popular leader.
In a Facebook post, he said the opposition had a negative anti-Modi agenda and they were seeking to take the best advantage of the electoral arithmetic.
“A negative campaign works when there is a strong anti-incumbency. When there is a comfort level with the government and its leader, a set of more satisfied people vote a government back,” he said.
“It is only the fear of his popularity and comeback that is bringing them together. The Prime Minister remains by far the most popular, decisive and dynamic leader of the present set of politicians.
“His integrity, emphasis on ethics, decisiveness, growth-oriented politics, has made aspirational India to accept him. He has singularly decimated all caste-based parties and dynastic political groups in 2014,” he said.
Jaitley welcomed the opposition making Modi’s continuation in office a key political issue.
“If a second term for Modi is the issue, it is advantage BJP. The election will be more presidential. If negativism is the political campaign in an aspirational nation, it won’t work. If arithmetic is the only hope, the Modi chemistry can prevail over it,” he said.
Jaitley, however, admitted that coming together of BSP and SP in Uttar Pradesh and Congress and the JD-S in Karnataka may change arithmetic combinations.
“Except in Uttar Pradesh and to a lesser extent Karnataka, the arithmetical combination does not appear to be any significantly different from 2014. The whole emphasis in these two states is on caste coalitions. Vote transferability in such caste coalitions is not so simple. Local chemistries react differently,” he said.
Referring to the Kolkata rally organised by Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee, he said it was an anti-Modi rally but more significantly it was also a non-Rahul Gandhi rally.
“The opposition politics has thrown up four desirous Prime Ministers wishing to challenge Modi. Besides Mamata Banerjee, the other three – Rahul Gandhi, Mayawati and KCR – were significantly absent in Kolkata. Two-third of those on stage were those who in the past have worked with the BJP,” he said.
“Negativism was writ large in their approach. The strategy of each of the four contenders is clear,” he said.
Jaitley slammed the presence of former BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and party MP Shatrughan Sinha at the rally, saying some octogenarians reached there to “satisfy their late-life ambitions”.
The Minister said the BJP and NDA had to be prepared for a battle for a 50 per cent vote in the direct fight contest.
“People are more intelligent than what many politicians think… They never choose chaos as an option. What has been presented by the opposition is a post-election leadership battle, no common programme, no policy and a disastrous memory of their administrative disabilities.
“Experimented, tried and failed ideas only scare voters. They convey no appeal. People want a five year government, not a six month one,” he said.
“The India of 2019 has moved way ahead of India of 1971. Aspirational society never commit a collective suicide. They do not suffer from a Lemming Syndrome.
“Will 2019 be a replica of 1971? It is Modi vs an unviable and an unworkable short-lived combination? OR is it Modi vs Chaos,” he ended.