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No dent in Narendra Modi’s image: Rajnath Singh

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Patna: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image has not dented, at least not in Bihar, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Monday, and added that the BJP is confident of forming the next government in the state.

Modi enjoys the same appeal as he did when he led the Bharatiya Janata Party to an emphatic victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Bihar included, the minister said in an interview here.

Narendra modi“I am campaigning in the whole of Bihar. I see no dent in the prime minister’s image. The people of Bihar still have confidence in him,” Singh said.

Rajnath Singh also said that it was due to the BJP’s “generosity” that Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader Nitish Kumar became the chief minister at the head of a BJP-JD-U government in 2005 although the BJP had won more seats than the JD-U in assembly elections.

The BJP accepted the leadership of Nitish Kumar only because it wanted Bihar to develop economically.

“The BJP sacrificed power for stability in Bihar by appointing Nitish Kumar as chief minister in 2005 despite winning more seats as compared to JD-U,” Singh said.

“Janata hamari is dariyadili ko janati hai (People know of this magnanimity on our part),” he added.

But the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister alleged that Nitish Kumar became arrogant after taking office.

Rajnath Singh, a former BJP president who played a key role in declaring Narendra Modi the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, said: “Since Modi started campaigning in Bihar, the scenario has changed. We are strong contenders for forming the government in the state.”

He criticised the JD-U and RJD leader Lalu Prasad for harping on caste issues.

Rajnath Singh

“Election is a festival of democracy. The prime issue must be development related. But ‘Mahagatbandhan’ (Grand Alliance) is raising issues of beef and caste. These are tactics aimed at diverting from real issues.”

“It is clear they have no major issue to get people’s support,” he added.

The former BJP president said people no more voted on caste lines. Now they needed governments that can provide good governance.

“BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are prime examples of this. While voting, people see performance of state governments. They even judge the performance of the central government.”

“No corruption issue has surfaced in the central government. Globally, our government is scaling new heights with every foreign visit of the prime minister. People are also judging these issues.”

Asked about the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate in Bihar, Rajnath Singh said: “We decided not to project any leader as chief ministerial candidate.”

“This does not mean we have dearth of leaders in the state. There are lots of capable leaders. When the time comes, our parliamentary board will take the right decision.”

(Brajendra Nath Singh, IANS)

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India Begins Its Election Season With Five States

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh.

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India, elections
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the gathering during the 'Global Mobility Summit' in New Delhi, India, VOA

India began on Monday the first of five state elections to be held in coming weeks, important tests for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he plots a course that he hopes will ensure him victory in a general election due by May.

Voters in the central state of Chhattisgarh went to the polls on Monday to elect representatives for 18 of the state assembly’s 90 seats in a staggered poll complicated by logistical problems and left-wing guerrillas.

The state of about 26 million people has been ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2003, and he will be hoping to hold on to power.

India, elections
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Continues To Stay Mum On The #MeToo Movement. Wikimedia Commons

“Some unholy people have handed guns to children who should have pens in their hands,” Modi told a rally in the state on Friday, referring to the rag-tag guerrillas battling government forces from forest hideouts. “They’ve finished the lives of our tribal children.”

Hundreds of election workers had to be flown in to remote polling stations by helicopter because of the danger posed by the rebels.

Modi called for voters to back his BJP and its vision of “development for all.”

The final phase of voting in Chhattisgarh, which is known for its coal, iron ore and bauxite reserves, will be on Nov. 20.

India,India, elections
India’s Congress party President Rahul Gandhi displays documents as he accuses Narendra Modi’s government of buying 36 Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault at a highly inflated price, in New Delhi, India. VOA

The BJP was the preference of about 43 percent of voters in Chhattisgarh, 7 percentage points ahead of the main opposition Congress party, according to a survey released last week by the Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

Modi’s other big tests will be in the neighboring central state of Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP is slightly ahead of Congress, according to polls, and in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, where Congress is expected to emerge victorious.

A good performance by the BJP in the elections would help it deflect growing criticism over unemployment and a crisis in the countryside over falling farm prices and wages.

India, elections
Modi Appeals For A Regional Front Against Terrorism, flickr

Elections will also be held for assemblies in Telangana in the south and Mizoram in the northeast.

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh, including Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand Hindu priest and the BJP chief minister in Uttar Pradesh state.

Also Read: PM Narendra Modi Announces Easier Access to Credit

Adityanath has been appealing to the BJP’s Hindu-nationalist base and on Sunday accused the opposition of blocking construction of a temple for Hindu god Ram on a disputed site in Uttar Pradesh.

The destruction of a mosque on the site by a Hindu mob in 1992 sparked deadly riots across the country. (VOA)