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"2019 Elections Will Be Janta Vs Gathbandhan": PM Modi

Newdelhi: The coming national elections will be a contest between the people and the anti-BJP alliance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in one of his rare interviews given to news agency ANI on New Year's day. Brushing away questions raised about the party's prospects following the setback in the assembly elections in the three heartland states, he said these were a "set of persons" who echoed a similar narrative even in 2014. "People will decide if they want to support those who loot even if they come together. It will be janta (people)vs gathbandhan (alliance)," PM Modi said.

About the party's performance in the recent round of elections, the Prime Minister said, "First of all, no one expected BJP to form government in Telangana and Mizoram... In Chhattisgarh, the results were decisive but in other two states, the result was a hung assembly". The BJP had been ruling Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh for three consecutive terms. "There may have been anti-incumbency, we are looking at the reasons," he said. But for the national elections, he said he had faith in the country's voters. "Experts will say all kinds of things, to defend their position and drive their narrative. But we should never underestimate the political understanding of the common man," he said.

Asked if the 2019 elections were heading towards a US Presidential style of elections between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi, he said: "I believe this election is going to be a contest between those who fulfill and take forward the aspirations of the people and those who stop these aspirations. There is experience of 70 years. The public is the decider". Asked if the opposition alliance that's being discussed could be an alternative, the Prime Minister said, "They still speak in different voices. Who are these people? They are looking for each other's support to save themselves... They hold each other's hand, so that they are saved. That is the game".