‘Certainly, NDA will cross 400, no ifs & buts… max BJP supporters are voting’: Union minister Amit Shah

A confident Amit Shah asserted that there’s a positive vote in favour of BJP. In an interview with Diwakar and Akhilesh Singh on the eve of the fourth phase of polls, the home minister dismissed the assessment that a drop in turnout and absence of a wave could be impediments. Edited excerpts:
TOI: Polls are halfway through but there seems to be no wave, which is also being presumed to be behind lower turnout.Are you still confident that NDA will cross 400 seats or was it a highly ambitious target?
Amit Shah: Certainly NDA is going to cross 400 seats. There are no ifs and buts. Low turnout should be a concern for the opposition, not us. I say this on the basis of my interaction with BJP workers. Maximum number of BJP supporters have cast their votes… people are not excited about the opposition, but they are about us. Both our victory margin and seats will increase. As for the absence of a wave, let me tell you I have been observing polls since 1975, since I was very young, and have been a student of political processes. It is the first time that we are seeing a positive vote of this scale, an endorsement of development. Youth everywhere are discussing schemes like Digital India, Startup India, share market growth. There is also excitement among farmers about welfare and empowerment schemes. Most importantly, there is an army of over 60 crore beneficiaries which is standing strongly with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This will ensure BJP’s victory.
How can you be so confident when you have already reached saturation point in your strongholds? You can only lose seats there and can’t gain. How can you reach the 400+ target?
(Interrupts and laughs) I remember you had asked me the same question in March 2019 when I said BJP was going to get 300 seats. And we indeed got 300. Let me answer where we are going to get seats. We are going to increase our tally in UP, Bengal, Odisha, Telangana, we are going to make a good start in Andhra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu. We are going to be the biggest party in south India and make impressive gains in East and the entire Coromandel belt.
Then why has BJP, which started with its agenda of development, shifted to politics of polarisation? You are talking about UCC, inheritance tax and are focused on the Congress manifesto; there is a lot of emphasis even on the contentious idea of one nation-one poll.
Elections are never about one single issue. I don’t consider one nation-one poll polarising… it’s a giant step towards electoral reforms. Recurrent polls mean financial expenditure for govt and political parties, frequent interruptions to development work. It is not in the country’s interest. UCC has been part of our manifesto since the 1950s. Moreover, it is not BJP’s issue. It was debated in the Constituent Assembly and is part of the Directive Principles of the Constitution which mandates states and Parliament to strive for the formulation of UCC. Different laws for followers of different faiths are at odds with secularism.
Therefore, opposing UCC is communalism. Since you are talking about inheritance tax, it is part of Congress’s agenda. During elections, parties are required to debate each other’s manifestos and agendas. Polls are a contest of ideas and it is our duty to debate them. Had members of INDI Alliance not said that we should not talk about PoK as Pakistan has got nuclear bombs, we had no reason to discuss it. BJP is opposed to such dangerous ideas and has to tell people about its stand.
But you have also been harping on preference for Muslims in public procurement, tenders. You just said you will end religion-based quotas.
Religion-based quotas are a violation of the Constitution, which only allows quota for SCs/STs and OBCs on grounds of social and educational backwardness. It is those who have implemented religion-based reservations who are guilty of communalism and appeasement. We are only explaining the constitutional position and our resolve to correct these errors.
There is a perception that the momentum of Ram Mandir construction ebbed too early.
Ram temple was never a political issue for us, it represented our faith and belief. It should not be seen through a political lens. We corrected Himalayan blunders of Congress with construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya and abrogation of Article 370 and people appreciate that.
You have set a highly ambitious target from south India. You just said BJP will fetch the highest number of seats from south Indian states.
I reiterate that BJP will emerge with the highest combined tally of seats from Karnataka, Telangana, AP, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. BJP is expanding well in south India because people there support PM Modi’s leadership irrespective of language, even ideology.
What is the basis of this confidence? You are still seen as a ‘Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan’ party and don’t seem to understand the sensitivities of south India and the complexities of politics there.
Those who say BJP does not understand South probably don’t understand us. We are people who live for Bharat and when we talk about Bharat, isn’t South also part of it? When we talk about Indian culture, we also express our respect for the culture and traditions of South and all other regions.
YSRCP and BJD supported you during the last five years in Parliament but you have been aggressive against them during the campaign.
YSRCP and BJD were never our allies. They supported us on some bills, but they also opposed us on others. Why should parties not support each other on issues that are in national interest? Do you want a Parliament where parties don’t come together for people’s issues? We also supported Congress on occasions on issues of national interest but did that make us allies of Congress.
You have also set an ambitious target for West Bengal, how realistic is your target after the debacle in the assembly polls?
I don’t think we suffered a debacle in the assembly polls. We did hope to form the govt. But going from three seats to 77 when we had only 5% vote share and when Congress and CPM drew a blank was no mean achievement. In the last LS polls, we won 18 seats, and we will definitely improve this time. LS polls are about who is going to be the PM. People in Bengal are also voting against cut money, infiltration, appeasement and TMC’s opposition to CAA. Atrocities in Sandeshkhali have shaken women. Imagine, poor women were sexually exploited for years under the nose of a woman CM on the basis of their religion. This itself renders her ineligible to continue as CM. People of Bengal are firm on making Narendra Modi prime minister. I am sorry to say, unlike you people, we don’t have to depend on findings of surveys. We go by the response from people and I am confident of getting 30 of the 42 seats in the state; take that from me.
You talked about Sandeshkhali but many victims (of sexual harassment) have gone back on their charges and have said they were made to lie…
(Interrupts) This is part of the pattern in Bengal where atrocities are committed and then victims are subjected to trauma and injustice for a second time by being forced to deny their suffering. When I was party president, I went to a family over lunch and they were made to pay a huge price for that. One member of the family was hanged. Is this democratic politics? But when people’s tolerance threshold is breached, they refuse to take it lying down. Today, it is BJP alone, which has emerged as the champion of their cause.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has got interim bail and there are indications that Hemant Soren may get similar relief. They are likely to get sympathy in Delhi and Jharkhand, which the BJP had swept last time.
Wait a moment. Just consider the facts. Arvind Kejriwal ji went to SC claiming that his arrest was illegal and he got rebuffed. So, during the course of hearing, he changed tack and sought release on bail only to be turned down by the court yet again. The court gave him interim bail saying you are the president of a party and have a democratic right to campaign but you have to come back to jail on June 2. He has neither been adjudged innocent nor has he been given bail. He will be back in Tihar jail on June 2. On the contrary, his claim that his arrest was illegal has been rejected. How can he play victim and gain mileage out of it? Here is a man who entered politics claiming to be a crusader against corruption, he vowed never to enter politics, but he became CM and then engaged in corruption. The man who declared that he would never live in a govt accommodation went on to build a palatial bungalow — sheesh mahal — out of people’s money. Don’t people know all this? In fact, whenever he goes out to campaign, people will be reminded of him being the mastermind of the liquor scam, the luxurious mansion that he built for him self. I have a simple request for him… please invite 15 common citizens from each of the seven Delhi Lok Sabha constituencies and let them see the opulence and luxury that you are enjoying at their cost. Can he invite even 15 journalists for a tour of his sheesh mahal?
You are calling it a request but it sounds more of a dare.
How can I challenge anybody, I can only make a request.
A couple of days ago, he was very generous to you that in Sept 2025, you are going to take over as PM because by then Modi would have turned 75.
This is a desperate attempt to mislead people… It has been made clear by me, our party president (J P Nadda), Rajnath Singh ji that Modi ji will not just complete his third term but will continue to lead us beyond that.
But didn’t the party set 75 years as retirement age?
That was applied in a particular situation, there is no such thing in our party constitution and in this election, BJP has fielded at least 10 candidates who are above 75 years. That apart, I would like to reiterate that Modi ji will complete his term and continue afterwards also.
Coming back to Kejriwal’s case, he and many others in opposition have accused you of misusing ED and CBI to frame your opponents…
(Interrupts) Let us speak on the basis of facts. In 2014, we declared our commitment against corruption but there is no instance of agencies being misused to arrest anyone without evidence. Of the 5,155 PMLA cases registered since Modi took over, only 3% involve politicians. Leave that apart. Haven’t courts been approached in the case of each of these investigations? Why have the cases not been tossed out? Now look at my example, I was thrown into jail on the basis of fabricated charges. But I didn’t go around crying that I was a victim of vendetta, it was the court, which not only quashed the case, but also made the observation that the whole case was politically motivated.
So you are confident of a sweep of the seven seats in Delhi?
Yes. Since they (AAP) are in an opportunistic alliance with Congress, their erstwhile sworn rival, it is possible that in a couple of seats margins will be different but ‘lotus’ will bloom in all seven.
You have used Sam Pitroda and Mani Shankar Aiyar as a stick to whip Congress, which says this is unfair as the two have expressed personal opinions and they don’t represent the party.
The two gentlemen are parked in the garage and are wheeled out at election time to advance Congress’s agenda. Political parties are entitled to have their opinions no matter how controversial but they should have the courage to spell them out. We express our viewpoint freely and boldly but they do so by stealth. Aiyar and Pitroda are their stealth missiles. Both are useful for their politics of deception. Congress tries to distance itself from their remarks whenever it suits it and stages a show of taking action against them when things go awry. I have lost count of the times Aiyar was suspended and then rehabilitated with full honour. Pitroda’s remarks dividing people on the basis of facial features are reflective of the Congress mindset, which believes that India is just a collective of different ethnicities who have somehow been packed together. What they don’t recognise and appreciate is the emotional and cultural bonds which have integrated us for thousands of years. We appreciate the diversity and are also aware of the civilisational unity of this land. Also, Aiyar only articulated the Congress’s view that PoK be considered part of Pakistan. They are scared of Pakistan.
It is being said that the hidden agenda behind this ‘400 paar’ target is to have a super majority so that you can change the Constitution and scrap reservations.
Nothing can be more ridiculous and I am surprised you are putting this question to me. We had the numbers to change the Constitution for the past 10 years. We have fulfilled all our commitments: Article 370, CAA, UCC, triple talaq, enacted laws for economic reforms and for radical changes. If abolition of reservation was on our agenda, we would have done that by now using the same numbers. You don’t need 400 seats to amend the Constitution. We are not a party with a hidden agenda. The opposition is lying and misleading. On the contrary, it is they who have violated the Constitution by implementing religion-based quota… they have stolen from the share of SCs/STs/OBCs by implementing religion-based quota for Muslims.
You have also been accused of misusing electoral bonds to raise money for BJP… that the whole scheme was engineered to collect money for your party. After the SC scrapped the bonds, you said it was a good first step towards checking the use of black money in polls. Can we expect an improved version of electoral bonds in your third term?
You repeated only half the accusation. Rahul Gandhi has, in fact, called the bonds the world’s biggest extortion scheme. Let me answer. We got Rs 6,000 crore through bonds and Congress got Rs 1,400 crore. So isn’t Rahul Gandhi’s allegation an admission, going by his own charge, that he also extorted Rs 1,400 crore? Members of the INDI Alliance have received Rs 6,400 crore which is more than what BJP got. Aren’t they also guilty of extortion? Now look at it in percentage terms… BJP with 383 MPs got less than Congress with 78 MPs. By that yardstick, they have got over Rs 9,000 crore. Then if we accept Rahul Gandhi’s logic, who is the bigger extortionist? And look at the language he uses, after all, the scheme was passed by Parliament. Now come to the second part, the SC in its wisdom has cancelled it but I still maintain that we need to take steps to check the role of black money in elections. Take BJP’s case: before bonds we would get more than 80% in cash, which came down to 4% after launch of the scheme. The most ill-kept secret is that cash accounted for 90% of political funding. The bonds represented a much needed corrective. True, nobody knew who donated to whom. But this confidentiality was required because we have different political parties ruling in different states and it was essential to save donors from possible persecution for not helping one party or the other. That is why they insisted on paying in cash.
So are you suggesting that there will be a new scheme if you get your third term?
What I am saying is that this is a sensitive issue which needs to be debated at length by all stakeholders like political parties and civil society. We have to find a way to stop unaccounted cash from our political process.
You seem to imply that the use of cash in this election has gone back to pre-bond levels.
We have to wait for the post-poll declarations by political parties.
On Saturday, you said Revanth Reddy has committed a big mistake by doctoring a video of yours. You have messed with the ‘wrong person’, you told him in a public rally.
I only said I will pursue my legal remedies. If you manipulate and morph my video and my speech, am I not entitled to take legal recourse…? I think I am.
You have jabbed Rahul Gandhi for entering the Rae Bareli fray when he has already contested from Wayanad. Isn’t it his democratic right to decide which constituency he wishes to contest?
It is definitely his democratic prerogative and rules also allow that. The issue here is that he didn’t disclose to people in Wayanad his intent to contest from Rae Bareli as well. He waited for polling in Wayanad to be over. And mind it, he went to Wayanad because he could foresee his defeat in Amethi. This time he is apprehensive of a setback in Wayanad and that’s why he has come back to Rae Bareli and not Amethi. He is taking people of Wayanad and Rae Bareli for granted.
You just mentioned initiatives like Startup India and Digital India and how they have supported entrepreneurship. But the opposition is saying complexities in GST are killing enterprises and nipping entrepreneurship and have asked for a unified GST.
Since you have been echoing what our opponents say, you should not call it GST but Gabbar Singh Tax… shouldn’t you? I don’t know about the people whose lies and lines the opposition is parroting. But they are either ignorant or dishonest. GST is, globally speaking, the most successful scheme to simplify and rationalise taxes. Sixteen taxes have been clubbed into one while traders have been liberated from the trauma of having to file 16 different forms by taking the entire process online. Figures speak for themselves, GST collections have increased from Rs 60,000 crore at the time of launch to Rs 218 lakh crore in April 2024. Numbers don’t lie. Those who talk about a single tax, can there be one tax for bicycle and Mercedes? Fertiliser has 5% tax and gambling has 28% tax, should the rates for them be identical?
The opposition says mega initiatives like Digital India and Make in India were launched with much fanfare but have not achieved much.
They are blinded by their prejudice and their own lies. The success of Digital India and Make in India has been acknowledged globally. In 2023, 103 billion digital transactions worth Rs 166 trillion took place in the country. Over 46% of the world’s total digital transactions take place in India. UPI is now accepted by seven countries of the world — France, Bhutan, Oman, UAE, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Mauritius. Similarly, 2,74,246km-long optical fibre network that is part of the Bharat Net programme has connected 1.15 lakh gram panchayats. Since the launch of Make in India campaign in 2014 to make India a manufacturing hub, FDI has doubled. We have introduced PLI scheme in 14 sectors, resulting in new jobs and India becoming an exporter of finished products.

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