Marking the fourth anniversary of the BJP-led NDA government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said people have put a seal of approval on its performance while party chief Amit Shah asserted that its return to power in 2019 is not a challenge but a certainty.
As the top two ruling party leaders went all out to highlight the government's achievements and mock their rivals, the opposition launched a scathing attack against the dispensation with the Congress releasing a booklet 'India betrayed' and alleging that Modi and Shah were harmful for the country.
Modi addressed a rally to mark the anniversary of his government and chose Odisha, a state high on his party's agenda for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
He said his government's fight against corruption has sent "shivers down the spines of many who have come on one platform", a reference to opposition parties which have been in talks to put up a united fight against the ruling alliance.
At the rally in Cuttack, the prime minister said his government is moving on the correct path and people have put their seal of approval on it as he noted that his party is in power in 20 states.
It shows that people have endorsed the NDA's performance in the last four years, he said.
The country is moving towards "susashan" (good governance) from "kusashan" (bad governance) and towards "jandhan" (public money) from "kaladhan" (black money), he said and claiming that the Congress is always driven by power.
Shah addressed a press conference in the national capital to reel out figures to highlight the government's achievements.
He claimed that Modi has been working to remove corruption and poverty while accusing the opposition of having a single-point Modi hatao' (remove Modi) agenda.
He listed details of its "successes" and heaped scorn on the likely challenge from Rahul Gandhi-led Congress, saying he may have declared himself a prime ministerial candidate but his bid has not got the support from even his party colleagues, let alone other opposition leaders.
Projecting Modi as the "most popular and most hardworking prime minister with unending energy", Shah said he replaced the UPA's "policy paralysis" with a "policy-driven" government working for the poor and an improved economy.
The prime minister has also raised the country's esteem in the world, he said.
As Shah went hard at them, Congress leaders hit back with Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashok Gehlot and Randeep Surjewala claiming that an atmosphere of fear and hatred has been created under the BJP-led NDA rule.
"People now know that Modi-Amit Shah duo is harmful for the country. Four years of the Modi government can be defined in four terms -- treachery, trickery, revenge and lies," AICC communication's in-charge Surjewala said.
Referring to alleged atrocities on Dalits, tribals, minorities and women, Azad, the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said, "Nobody is safe in India under the BJP government. Everyone is getting sleepless nights." The Congress released the 'India betrayed' booklet on the four years of the BJP's "misrule", both in English and Hindi, and asked a set of 40 questions to the prime minister. Modi and Shah are "harmful" for the country after four years of the NDA rule, it said, describing its tenure as a period of "treachery, trickery, revenge and lies".
BJP leader and Union minister Arun Jaitley launched a blistering attack on the Congress and "maverick and temperamental" leaders of regional parties like the TMC, DMK and BSP, and said the debate till the 2019 polls would be "Modi versus an anarchist combination".
In a Facebook post, Jaitley, who is recuperating in AIIMS after a kidney transplant, said that the electoral prospects of the Congress are narrowing with the party is shrinking to a fringe.
Attacking the Congress, Shah said under the UPA government, scams worth Rs 12 lakh crores made headlines while during the Modi dispensation, development works have done so.
He also took a dig at the Congress, saying that those who imposed the Emergency, imprisoned more than a lakh people and silenced the media are now talking of an atmosphere of fear and the freedom of media.
Asked about the 'achche din' (good days) promised by the BJP-led ruling alliance when it came to power, Shah said the government has "done a lot to fulfil its promises in four years and one year is still left".
Playing down the challenge from a united opposition, he said people are standing by Modi like a rock and the prime minister's politics of performance will prevail over those promoting politics of dynasty, casteism and appeasement.
The BJP president said the honour of the prime minister's chair had hit rock bottom under the Congress-led UPA, as he took a dig at former prime minister Manmohan Singh, remarking that Modi does not need to seek anybody's permission before taking a decision.
Singh was often accused by critics of being guided by then Congress president Sonia Gandhi in his decisions.
"The Congress will not decide about the dignity of the prime minister's chair. People have done it. They have replaced its 14 state governments (with the BJP)," he said.
Asked if he saw a challenge from a united opposition or Rahul Gandhi in 2019, Shah said there is no challenge and the government's return to power is a certainty.