"Local Problems Will Be There, But...": S Jaishankar Confident Of Big Win

Prime Minister Modi's BJP is favoured to win a third consecutive term, for which it has set itself a target of 370+ Lok Sabha seats on its own and 400+ with NDA partners.

Foreign Minister S Jaishankar spoke to NDTV.

New Delhi:

The 2024 Lok Sabha election is a national issue and people will vote from that perspective, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar told NDTV Thursday, brushing aside talk that regional issues - like the ethnic violence in Manipur or the southern states' tax devolution row - could impact the BJP's chances of claiming a third consecutive win.

"Local problems will be there but, in the end, when people vote, they will question if they believe in Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I do not know the exact numbers but can confidently say it will be more than you think. The BJP has a 10-year record and the public has a positive image of the future."

"This is the mood of the public and especially the youth," Mr Jaishankar said.

The senior BJP leader - a Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka - also took a swipe at the opposition (without naming any party) and accused them of trying to "scare people". "On one side there is a vision of 'Viksit Bharat'. Then there are others saying 'everything is bad'... they are trying to scare people. The statement 'past 10 years is only a trailer' should not be taken lightly," he told NDTV.

Taking the manufacturing sector as an example, Mr Jaishankar said, "It has been neglected over the past 30 years. Some people say manufacturing (in India) cannot be done but I am confident it can (and) Modiji's speciality is that he not only has the vision... but talent for execution too."

"In 125 days (after the election) many measures will be implemented... you will feel these are the building blocks for a 'Viksit Bharat' and that India is moving forward," he declared.

Mr Modi, speaking to NDTV last week, had referred to the localised production of Apple, Inc.'s phones and declared, "We were importers of mobile phones but today we are the second-largest manufacturer and are exporting iPhones... one of every seven iPhones is being manufactured in India."

Meanwhile, on the election itself he said, "There are no other faces (as an alternative to Mr Modi)", repeating the BJP's critique of the opposition, and particularly the Congress-led INDIA bloc.

The INDIA bloc has not named a PM candidate at this stage and has campaigned with big names from most members - including the Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Yadav, the Sena faction of Uddhav Thackeray, the AAP's Arvind Kejriwal, and, of course, the Congress - sharing space at election rallies.

The BJP - leading with Mr Modi and his No 2, Home Minister Amit Shah - has often attacked the opposition on this count; on Wednesday the latter raised the subject in Bengal and claimed the opposition "doesn't have a PM face (and) has decided to rotate the PM's chair among themselves".

The BJP is favoured to win a third consecutive term and that it will achieve its 'abki baar, 400 paar' target. American political scientist Ian Bremmer told NDTV Profit the expected score is 305 (+/-10).

NDTV Battleground | S Jaishankar Asked To Bet On BJP Poll Score. His Reply

The opposition, however, is confident it can spring a surprise.

"You said the 370 target is a slogan. But I don't think Modiji has randomly mentioned a number... some thought has gone into it," Mr Jaishankar told NDTV, countering some analysts belief the saffron party could struggle to hit that number given traditionally weak results in the south.

A chunk of the BJP's support base comes from Hindi-speaking states in the north and west of India, which it will probably retain come counting on June 4. To hit the 400-mark, however, it needs a similarly strong result from the southern states, which send 130 MPs to the Lok Sabha.

READ | BJP Will Claim "Historic" Win, States Trust Us: PM Modi To NDTV

Both the PM and Mr Shah have said they are confident of "historic" results from the south, and Mr Jaishankar concurred. "... in some states, such Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu... we will increase our seats," he said.

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