Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said his government was determined like Hanuman to fight corruption and nepotism, claimed the BJP was "nourished with the nectar of democracy" and alleged the Opposition was sleepless after the exposure of its corruption.
Addressing party leaders and workers on the BJP’s 44th foundation day, which coincided with Hanuman Jayanti celebrations, Modi sought to portray himself and his party as a divine force and the Opposition as demons.
In a speech that appeared to lay down the BJP’s campaign planks for next year’s general election, he attacked people with the “Badshahi mindset” of the erstwhile Mughal rulers — apparently polarising language that also seemed a dig at the Nehru-Gandhis.
The Prime Minister’s speech contained repeated invocations of Hanuman, coming days after Ram Navami processions had triggered communal clashes in certain non-BJP-ruled states such as Bengal, Bihar and Maharashtra.
“The BJP draws inspiration from another important trait of Hanuman. When faced with demons, Hanuman used to turn harsh. In the same way, when it comes to corruption, nepotism (and threats to) law and order, the BJP turns equally determined to rid the motherland of these ills,” he said.
Modi referred to the Ramayan’s account of Hanuman lifting an entire mountain and said the BJP was inspired by this “can-do attitude”.
The Prime Minister portrayed the BJP as the epitome of democratic values at a time Opposition leaders are alleging a “threat to democracy” and an attempt to silence them in Parliament and intimidate them outside through the misuse of investigative agencies.
“The BJP has taken birth from the womb of democracy, has been nourished with the nectar of democracy and remains deeply devoted to the Constitution and democracy,” he said.
Modi went on to hit out at his political rivals, saying the parties in power after Independence had ruled with a colonial mindset, and that people were liberated when he came to power in 2014.
“They (previous governments) treated people with a ‘Badshahi mindset’, considering them slaves. In 2014, the people raised a cry against this and sounded the bugle for a new India,” he said.
Opposition parties have been alleging that the Ram Navami clashes were part of the BJP’s politics of polarising voters and deflecting attention from the charges of financial irregularities against the Adani group.
Modi, however, played the victim, claiming the Opposition parties, faced with a crackdown on their corrupt activities, wished him dead out of desperation.
“The Opposition parties are sleepless and frustrated because their corruption has been exposed. They have become so desperate that they see only one way ahead; so they are raising slogans about digging my grave,” he said, referring to the ‘Modi teri kabr khudegi’ slogan.
He claimed that large sections of voters — “men, women, the youth, OBCs, weaker sections” — stood firmly behind the BJP’s lotus symbol and, unable to digest this, the Opposition parties were talking of digging a grave for him.
BJP leaders said Modi’s address had unveiled the campaign pitch for the Lok Sabha polls, and that the “fight against corruption” would form its main plank.
Modi said that although the BJP’s victory was certain, party leaders and workers should not be complacent.
“The people have already started saying that the BJP cannot be defeated in 2024. It’s true, too. But we have to fight every election with the same energy and win each and every heart,” he said.