Dealt a severe blow by the Congress in the Hindi heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said the outcome would have no bearing on the Lok Sabha elections next year.
He said the 2019 general election would be on a completely different footing where people would face a choice between a tried and tested Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a highly opportunistic “coalition of rivals”.
“We lost Delhi badly in 2013 but swept all the seats by lakhs of votes the very next year. We won the 2003 Assembly elections in all three states (Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan) but lost the 2004 elections. State assemblies are always on a very different footing,” Jaitley said while addressing the India Economic Conclave via video conference.
The comments come after the BJP was routed in Chhattisgarh and defeated in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in closely-fought contests.
Expressing confidence of winning the Lok Sabha polls next year, he said the question in front of the voters was absolutely clear.
“One one hand, you have a Prime Minister and a government which has been tested for its politics, integrity, stability, ethics and decisiveness. On the other hand you have what I call a coalition of rivals — a highly opportunistic combination with no clear policy, whose stability has always been in doubt,” the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said.
He said that not just its stability but even the policy direction of the coalition was in doubt, with some partners wanting their state interests to be served while others focused on their vote bank even at the cost of supporting radical elements.
Jaitley said the longevity of such a coalition was not beyond a few months and that it was bound to fail as it happened on previous occasions.
The Finance Minister also blamed Congress President Rahul Gandhi and his supporters for the degrading quality of India’s political discourse.
“We comment on his politics. That is not a personal attack. But Rahul Gandhi is the one indulging in personal attacks. Not even Prime Minister Modi’s mother was spared, or even his father who died 40 years ago. Personal attacks were made even on my children who are not even in politics.
“Rahul Gandhi and his supporters personalise every attack. We believe there policies and politics should be commented on, not personalities and families. Rahul Gandhi is the one who started the (latter trend),” Jaitley said.