Modi gives NDA 'New India' goal, sets tone for 2019

A group of 32 National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leaders, among them a few until recently unhappy with the BJP, have unanimously acknowledged Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the country's "most popular" leader since Independence.

PDP leader and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti could not attend the meeting and a representative deputised for her. It came even as the Opposition anti-BJP-NDA forces rallied against the ruling combination as part of their joint strategy to take on the BJP-led alliance in 2019 and in states like Gujarat, where assembly polls are due later this year.

He also urged the allies to consider convening the assembly in their respective states for a day to fix individual development agenda for the next five years.

All NDA constituents hailed the performance of the Modi government, especially the leadership of the Prime Minister, Jaitley told reporters. NDA convenor and Andhra Pradesh CM Chandra Babu Naidu also credited the PM for the strong economic growth during the NDA regime.

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However the candidate must be picked after taking all NDA allies into consensus. "He will be the face banking on whom the party will go for the 2017 Gujarat elections", a senior state BJP leader said.

With presidential election round the corner, the BJP is hopeful of securing the support of the Shiv Sena's contingent of 18 MPs and 63 MLAs after the Shah-Thackeray meeting. The meeting began with the inaugural address by BJP President Amit Shah.

A senior Shiv Sena functionary confirmed that Uddhav and Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray were also going for the meeting. This will be significant for both BJP and Shiv Sena, as the parties now share a strained relationship in Maharashtra.

A resolution passed at the meeting expressed a "deep sense of appreciation for the decisive and bold leadership" that Narendra Modi had provided the NDA. While Modi and Uddhav have met each other at government functions, they haven't shared any political space since 2014. "India is the only country that is going to grow in double digits and it is only possible with Modi's leadership", Naidu added. "While he congratulated the Uttar Pradesh government's decision, he asked the PM to implement the same in Maharashtra as well", said a Sena leader.

  • Regina Walsh