Six days before the results of the Lok Sabha 2019 elections, and with less than two hours to go for campaigning to end for the final phase of the polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present at a press briefing by BJP president Amit Shah, and also gave a short speech during the briefing. This was expected to be the first time that the Prime Minister interacted with the media in his five-year tenure, however, Modi did not take any questions at the party press conference.
Before Narendra Modi gave a speech, Amit Shah addressed reporters and said that BJP alone will cross 300 seats in this election. Their pre-poll allies will be part of the government, he added.
Speaking at the headquarters of the BJP, Modi started off his address on a light note, with a mention of tea, and then went on to praise his tenure for achieving an India where "Ramzan, exams and elections are held at the same time."
"I believe that some things we can say to the world with pride. We are the world's biggest democracy," he said, adding that there was a demand for 'double accountability' on political parties because of social media.
Expressing confidence that his party will win an absolute majority once again, Modi said, "We got an opportunity to create a government without dynastic support in 2014, and are getting the opportunity again now in 2019."
"I have come here to say thanks. I want to thank the people of the country through you (media). It will happen after a long time in the country, our government will come to power with absolute majority for the second consecutive time," he added.
Laughing about the decimation of the opposition in the 2014 elections, Modi said, "On May 17 in 2014, there was a big casualty. The beginning of an honest governance began then. The results on May 23 will be for a 'majboot sarkar' (strong government), it will give BJP more mandate than 2014."
"To take the country forward, we have said a lot of things in the manifesto. We will work on it one by one and bring a new governance culture," he added.
However, the Prime Minister did not take any questions from reporters.
Speaking before Modi, Amit Shah told reporters, "We got historic mandate in 2014. We started our election campaign from January 16...Our target was to win the 120 Lok Sabha seats which we couldn't win the last time. We are confident that we'll receive good results."
The event was held 1,828 days into his tenure after the Prime Minister was repeatedly criticised for failing to address a single press meet. Congress President Rahul Gandhi also held a parallel press meet in New Delhi.
"Prime Minister holds a press conference just 4-5 days before the election ends. It is unprecedented. Prime Minister of India is holding a press conference for the first time," Rahul Gandhi said, adding, "Role of Election Commission has been biased in this election. Modi can say whatever he wants to say while we're stopped from saying the same thing. Seems that the elections schedule was made for Modi's campaigning."
Earlier in the day, speaking at one of his final poll rallies in Khargone in Madhya Pradesh, Modi asserted that the ongoing Lok Sabha battle was to decide the future of not a political party but the country, he said he expected the BJP to win more than 300 seats.
The 2019 Lok Sabha elections are being held in seven phases, and the final phase of polling will be on May 19. The results for all phases will be released on May 23.