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Amit Shah holds centre-stage at NDA meetings

The BJP chief is considered the most influential after Modi and could get a powerful ministry in the new government

  • Published 22.05.19, 3:23 AM
  • Updated 23.05.19, 6:00 AM
  • 2 mins read

BJP chief Amit Shah on Tuesday got the Union council of ministers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the party headquarters for a “thanksgiving get-together” before hosting a dinner for alliance leaders in the evening, occupying centre-stage 48 hours ahead of counting day.

Shah’s central role at both meetings strengthened speculation that the leader’s stature could shoot up further if the BJP returns to power with a big majority as some exit polls have predicted.

Many in the BJP feel that Shah, considered the most influential after Modi, could get a powerful ministry in the new government if that happens.

Shah has contested the election from Gandhinagar in Gujarat, replacing the party’s sidelined patriarch L.K. Advani.

The BJP chief spoke first at the closed get-together of the council of ministers over tea and thanked Modi and his ministers for the achievements of the government that helped the party run a successful campaign.

Key ministers, including those from the BJP’s alliance partners in the NDA, spoke after Shah. The Prime Minister spoke last.

“I congratulate Team Modi Sarkar for their hard work and remarkable achievements in the last 5 years. Let us keep this momentum going for a New India under the leadership of PM @narendramodi,” Shah tweeted after the first meeting, confident of victory when the votes are counted on Thursday.

Modi thanked all his ministers for working as a team and then went on to claim that the 2019 general election was different from the earlier ones.

“This election was above politics. People were fighting this election,” Union minister Narendra Tomar, who briefed reporters later, quoted Modi as saying.

Modi also said that unlike the earlier campaigns, he had a “feeling of joy” this time, as if he were on a “pilgrimage of the country”.

Later in the evening, Shah hosted a dinner at a hotel for NDA leaders, including Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar (Janata Dal United), Uddhav Thackeray (Shiv Sena), Ram Vilas Paswan (LJP) and Parkash Singh Badal (Akali Dal).

Tamil Nadu chief minister E.K. Palaniswami and former chief minister O. Panneerselvam represented the AIADMK, a new entrant in the NDA.

Sources said the NDA meeting was a show of strength by the BJP ahead of counting day to underline that the party would take its allies along even if it secured a majority on its own, as it had in 2014.

Back then the NDA had 16 constituents. The alliance now has 39 — many of them state-level partners — which the BJP has sought to project as proof of its acceptability.

A resolution unanimously passed at the meet expressed faith in Modi’s leadership and slammed the Opposition for raising “unnecessary” objections over electronic voting machines and tarnishing the image of the Election Commission.

The meeting virtually projected another term as Prime Minister for Modi and announced big investments in infrastructure and poverty-alleviation schemes in the next five years.

Home minister Rajnath Singh and LJP boss and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan briefed reporters after the meeting. Paswan said “the results” showed Modi’s popularity and later explained that the NDA would win by a bigger majority than what the exit polls have forecast.“The NDA represents the hopes and aspirations of the people of the country. The NDA has become an organic unity,” Rajnath quoted Modi as saying.

Leaders of 36 parties attended the meeting. Three parties that were absent communicated their support.

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