Free-and-fair elections may become a thing of the past in India if Narendra Modi gets re-elected as its Prime Minister, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot claimed in an interview with news agency PTI today. He also dubbed PM Modi as a "good actor" who would do a better job in Bollywood, and alleged that he would go to any length -- including start a war with Pakistan -- to stay in power.
"If people re-elect Modi, there will be no certainty on whether elections will be held again in the country or not. Chunav honge bhi, aur nahin bhi honge... jaise China, Russia mein hota hai (Elections will be held in the country and yet not held, like it happens in China and Russia)," Mr Gehlot told PTI, accusing the Prime Minister of subverting democracy.
He also termed PM Modi as a "master in marketing false promises". "If Modiji was in Bollywood, he would probably have left a different mark in the country and abroad with his mastery in acting, oratory skills and antics," he said, claiming that nobody -- including BJP chief Amit Shah -- knows "what's on his mind."
He also accused PM Modi of misusing Indian embassies to get the support of Non-Resident Indians or NRIs during his international visits. He said active support from Indian embassies allowed the Prime Minister to get the support of the Indian diaspora.
Mr Gehot's comments come amid an aggressive push by the Prime Minister to seize the national narrative ahead of the elections, including the launching of the BJP's '#MainBhiChowkidar' social media campaign which has seen all senior leaders adding the pre-fix of 'Chowkidar (watchman)' to their social media accounts before their names.
The campaign topped worldwide Twitter trends and stayed in the country's Twitter trends two days after the launch. The campaign also became fodder for opposition criticism, with the Congress tweeting with its own hashtags '#IndiaBewakoofNahiHai (India isn't stupid)' and '#SuitBootKaChowkidaar (Chowkidar only for businessmen)' saying "Everybody knows India is not stupid, you are the one & only Chowkidar only for businessmen".
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi also targeted the Prime Minister in a tweet, saying "you can keep trying Mr Modi, but the truth cannot be extinguished,". He also said PM Modi was attempting to convert the entire country into chowkidars.
"Chowkidar was caught indulging in theft and as he was caught, chowkidar says the whole of Hindustan is chowkidar. But before getting caught, the entire Hindustan was not chowkidar," Rahul Gandhi said, quoted by PTI.
Mahagathbandhan leaders, including BSP chief Mayawati and the RJD's Tejashwi Yadav have also hit out at Prime Minister. Tejashwi Yadav, echoing Mr Gehlot, had in a tweet in Hindi, said the Constitution was in danger, adding that if the opposition made a "political mistake", then the chances of having another election would become dim.
Taking a leaf out of the opposition's book, Sakshi Maharaj, the BJP lawmaker from Uttar Pradesh's Unnao, said the Modi wave of 2014 had become "the Modi tsunami".
"I feel there will be no election in 2024...this is the only election and we are fighting it in the name of the country with full honesty," he said during a party programme.
No one can stop him from becoming the Prime Minister again, Sakshi Maharaj had said.
(With Inputs From PTI)