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Lok Sabha polls 2024 | BJP will be reduced to 150 seats: Rahul, Akhilesh pound on opposition in UP

In their first joint appearance during this election season at a press conference here, they reminded the cadres to ensure that “not a single vote is divided”, as they referred to the scrapping of the contentious electoral bonds, farmers' woes and troubles faced by youth among other issues, which the I.N.D.I.A. bloc has been highlighting.
hemin Joy
Last Updated : 17 April 2024, 07:36 IST
Last Updated : 17 April 2024, 07:36 IST

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Ghaziabad: Predicting that the BJP will be reduced to 150 seats in the Lok Sabha elections, top Opposition leaders Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav on Wednesday pounded on the ruling regime, accusing the Prime Minister of being the “champion of corruption” and that “loot and lies” have become the identity of the saffron party.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said the winds of change will start blowing from Ghaziabad in the west of UP to Gazipur in the east with the BJP being given a “grand farewell” while Congress’ campaigner-in-chief Rahul “now believes” that the ruling party will be reduced to 150 seats though 180 was his figure 15-20 days ago.

In their first joint appearance during this election season at a press conference here, they reminded the cadres to ensure that “not a single vote is divided”, as they referred to the scrapping of the contentious electoral bonds, farmers' woes and troubles faced by youth among other issues, which the I.N.D.I.A. bloc has been highlighting.

Rahul and Akhilesh will hit the campaign trail together for the first time this election season in Amroha on Friday where Congress candidate Danish Ali, a former BSP MP, is seeking re-election in the second phase of polling on April 26.

Rahul said Modi in a “long” and “scripted” interview sought to defend electoral bonds claiming that it was brought for transparency but it ended as a "flop show". He said if Modi's explanations were true, the question remains why the electoral bonds were scrapped by the Supreme Court.

“If you wanted to bring transparency, then why did you hide the names of those who donated money to BJP, why did you hide the dates on which they gave you the money?...This is the biggest extortion scheme in the world. All businessmen understand and know this. No matter how much he clarifies, it will have no impact because the entire nation knows that the Prime Minister is the champion of corruption,” he said.

Akhilesh added, “BJP has become the godown of all corrupt people. They are not only taking corrupt people into their party but also keeping the money earned by the corrupt...Loot and lies have become the identity of the BJP.” He said the promises like those on jobs made by the BJP were all “lies”.

Pitching the 2024 battle as a fight between the ideologies of RSS-BJP and the I.N.D.I.A. bloc, Rahul said neither the Prime Minister nor the BJP is talking about the big issues in the election. “There are 2-3 big issues in the elections. Unemployment is the biggest and inflation is the second biggest but BJP is engaged in creating distractions,” he said.

Asked about the electoral prospects of the joining hands of the “two boys of UP” again, which Modi claimed would be a “flop show”, Rahul said reports from every state showed that I.N.D.I.A. was improving and in UP where they have a “very strong” alliance, they will “perform very well”.

He said he thought that the BJP would win 180 seats 15-20 days ago but now he “thinks they will get (only) 150”.

To a question on Modi's criticism of 'parivarvaad' in Opposition, Akhilesh said the BJP should now take a pledge not to give tickets to any dynasts or seek vote from them.

On Congress and I.N.D.I.A.'s agenda, Rahul said no one is saying poverty will be ended at one go but one can make strong efforts for it while outlining Congress' guarantees based on 'Nyay'. He claimed that demonetisation, wrong GST, and support to billionaires like Gautam Adani have impacted employment generation and their first task is to reverse that.

“I.N.D.I.A. bloc is the new hope and as Rahul said, there are many things in his party's manifesto by which poverty can be eradicated. Adding to that I want to say that the day the farmers of our country will become happy, the day the farmers will start getting remunerative prices for their crops and the day the Indian government increases the income of the farmers, poverty will go away,” Akhilesh added.

While Akhilesh said the Congress manifesto reflects the concerns of the I.N.D.I.A. bloc, Rahul said his party's manifesto was inspired by the ideas given by people and would remain open to suggestions from the Samajwadi Party and other constituents.

Asked why Congress was fielding fewer candidates this time and if it was because of inherent weakness of the party, Rahul answered in the negative and added that his party was “open-minded and flexible” and that was why they gave “space to partners”. He said, “it is not a question of weakness.”

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Published 17 April 2024, 07:36 IST

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