The BJP is confident of significantly improving its spectacular performance of 2014 in this year’s general elections, helped by an expected sweep in the Northeast and growing support in West Bengal, Odisha and Tamil Nadu, said Railways and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal at the Yes BankNSE 3.18 % Economic Times Global Business Summit 2019, powered by Facebook, on Saturday.
Recent developments have significantly improved the prospects of the party which was already expecting about 300 seats according to an independent survey it conducted last year, Goyal told an audience of Indian and international business leaders.
Responding to a question that some people in his party may not be as optimistic, the minister said others were not privy to as much information as him and that the party did not want its leaders and workers to be complacent. “I’d rather have all my candidates and leaders on edge so that they put their best foot forward,” Goyal said.
The BJP has been confident although its loss of power in the assembly polls in MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh has kindled hopes for its rivals, who plan to forge alliances to counter the party.
Regional parties in UP have put aside their rivalries and announced an alliance for the elections, but Goyal remains confident of at least maintaining NDA’s tally of 73 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats from the state. He said voters were no longer bound by caste and community considerations that used to significantly influence their votes in the past.
Goyal expects the BJP to not only retain its number of seats in UP, but add at least one to its tally. To those who doubt the optimism, Goyal’s message was that nobody expected the party to sweep UP in 2014, or to win an unprecedented 80% of the assembly seats three years later.
BJP’s confidence is based on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies that combined passion with compassion and delivered results to the downtrodden sections of society that were not on the radar of decision-makers and planners in the past, Goyal said. “People are willing to move out of the traditional caste- and community-based voting patterns and are looking for change. In Tamil Nadu, my survey results have surprised me. The impact that Mr Modi has had in a state like Tamil Nadu … We’re seeing surprising results.”
He said Modi’s policies had demonstrated that good economics makes for good politics too as the NDA government succeeded in delivering services like electricity, cooking gas and healthcare to people while keeping inflation very low and fiscal arithmetic under prudent control.
Before this government was elected, the loan books of public sector banks had tripled in six years. “There’s something fishy in that,” he said, adding that some borrowers had a low capital base, in some cases the loan amount was more than what the project was worth, and there were instances of multi-layered structures. “You can’t have power plants being set up dime a dozen all over the country without a good assessment of demand. Do we really need to invest in power plants of the traditional genre? We have come to realise that there was a lot of padding happening,” the minister said.
He said the corrective action taken by the government may have hurt some in the private sector, but the actions were necessary in the interest of honesty in administration. “Somebody had to bite the bullet, change the way business works…. After all, this is public money.”