Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah
Addressing a press conference for the first time ever since he came to power in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday asserted on the last day of campaigning Friday that the BJP will come back to power with a full majority, but refused to take any questions, citing party discipline.
In a surprised move, Modi showed up on the dais at the BJP headquarters here for a scheduled press conference by party president Amit Shah, who gave a detailed report card on the performance of the NDA government as well as BJP's extensive electioneering.
After his opening remarks, Modi diverted questions by journalists, saying he will not answer because the press conference is being addressed by Shah, and in BJP's system, discipline has to be followed.
"We are disciplined soldiers of the party. The party president is everything for us," Modi said.
In his remarks, Modi said,"the election has been amazing (shandar). Elections were held in a positive spirit. A government with full majority will come back after remaining in power for five years . This is probably happening after a very long time. This is a big deal in itself."
"The public has decided on the next government. We have promised many things in our manifesto to take the country forward. As soon as possible, the new government will take charge and we will take decisions one after another," Modi added.
In the press conference, Shah answered all questions and asserted that BJP will come back with a bigger majority.
"BJP will have enough seats to form a government on its own. We will get more than 300 seats. This election is to choose the country's Prime Minister. Narendra Modi will be the PM," said Shah.
There have been criticism against Modi including by Congress president Rahul Gandhi for not addressing any press conference since he became PM.
"It is not necessary that the PM responds to every question," said Shah, when a journalist asked him a question on the allegations against Modi and his silence on the Rafale deal.
He said there was a time when Indian Premier League had to be shifted out of India due to polls, but under the current government, Navratri, Ram Navami, Easter, Ramzan, IPL, board exams as well as elections could take place simultaneously and smoothly.
Modi said work to fulfil promises made in BJP's manifesto will be started as soon as the party comes to power.
"We ensured last-mile delivery which was a new structure of governance...Our government will take up its responsibility as soon as possible," he added.
The prime minister said the journey for an honest government started on May 17, 2014, a day after Lok Sabha election results were announced.
"Election results came on May 16, 2014 and a huge casualty took place on May 17, 2014. Today is also May 17. People in 'Satta bazaar' who bet for Congress to win in elections faced huge losses on May 17," he added.
The Congress mocked Modi for not taking any questions in his first appearance at a press conference, with party president Rahul Gandhi saying "showing up is half the battle".
"Congratulations Modi Ji. Excellent Press Conference! Showing up is half the battle. Next time Mr Shah may even allow you to answer a couple of questions. Well done," Gandhi tweeted.
Gandhi said it is "very impressive" to see the PM address his first press conference a few days before the Lok Sabha election results are out.
"The PM's first press conference is coming 4-5 days before the election results. The PM is accompanying Amit Shah in the press briefing. It is unprecedented. Very good. I am told the doors have also been shut, as journalists who want to ask questions have been blocked. It is a great press conference," he told reporters.
Gandhi addressed a press conference almost at the same time as Amit Shah and Modi did.
"I want to ask the prime minister why he did not hold a debate on the Rafale issue? I want to ask you why did you give Rs 30,000 crore to Anil Ambani. I was ready to come to Race Course road to hold a debate with Modi," Gandhi said, posing a question at his press conference.
(With PTI inputs)