Amit Shah calls BJP opponents snakes, dogs; backtracks in an hour: Updates

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president Amit Shah on Friday expressed the party's wish to remain in alliance with its estranged ally in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena. Photo: Kamlesh D Pednekar
Marking the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) 38th foundation day, BJP President Amit Shah today made stinging remarks against the opposition parties by equating them to "snakes, mongooses, dogs, and cats". Shah said the opposition parties are trying to unite to take on the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections 2019. Later, he said his intention was not to equate Opposition parties to animals. Shah also urged party workers to take a pledge to ensure that the BJP retained power with full majority to help achieve Prime Minister Narendra Modi's dream of 'New India'. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was slated to interact with BJP workers of five Lok Sabha constituencies and with the presidents of the party's 734 district units on Friday, a party statement said.  

The BJP chief also asserted that the Modi government will not scrap the reservation policy nor allow anyone else to do so. "The countdown for 2019 (polls) has begun. Attempts are being made for Opposition unity. When huge floods occur, everything is washed away. Only a vatvriksha (banyan tree) survives and snakes, mongoose, dogs, cats and other animals climb out to save themselves from the rising waters. Due to Modi flood, all cats, dogs, snakes and mongoose are getting together to contest polls," Shah said. 

Shah was apparently referring to the efforts being made by various parties like the TRS, the Trinamool Congress, and the TDP to sew up a coalition to take on the Modi-led BJP in the next general elections. 

The five Lok Sabha constituencies chosen for the interaction with the Prime Minister are New Delhi, North East Delhi, Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh, North Central Mumbai, and Saran in Bihar. Their MPs are Meenakshi Lekhi, Manoj Tiwari, Anurag Thakur, Poonam Mahajan and Rajiv Pratap Rudy, respectively.   

Here are the top ten developments around BJP's 38th foundation day celebrations and Mumbai rally: 

1) Amit Shah 'clarifies' comments comparing the Opposition with animals: Barely an hour after comparing opposition parties with animals at the Mumbai public rally created a furore, Shah virtually backtracked on his comments. During his rally speech, Shah said when there are huge floods all animals like "snakes, mongooses, dogs and cats" climb together on a single tree trunk for refuge, as there are deep waters below. "A campaign is underway to unite all Opposition parties... Whenever there are huge floods, all snakes, mongooses, dogs, cats, leopards, and lions, climb up a huge tree as they are scared of the rising waters."

"The political flood unleashed by (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi has made all these snakes, mongooses, dogs, and cats join together and unitedly contest the 2019 elections against him," he had said. 

However, barely an hour later, Shah clarified that what he implied was that parties with different ideologies were joining together to fight the upcoming elections against the BJP and Modi. "What I intended was that the parties with opposing political ideologies, which could never come together, have united... They include BSP-SP (the Bahujan Samaj Party-Samajwadi Party), TDP-Congress, Congress-Trinamool Congress, etc.," Shah said at a media briefing later.

He claimed that "political parties with differing ideologies have united because of the fear of Modi", noting animals like snake and mongoose never come together. "However, if somebody has felt offended then I am naming them all now, there is nothing to feel bad about it. Kindly don't twist my comments out of context," Shah, apparently on the backfoot, appealed to the media.  

2) Amit Shah tells BJP workers to take pledge for Modi's 2019 win: Launching BJP's election campaign for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, party president Amit Shah on Friday urged party workers to take a pledge to ensure it retained power with full majority to help achieve Prime Minister Narendra Modi's dream of 'New India'. Addressing a rally in Mumbai to mark the BJP's 38th Foundation Day, Amit Shah said the countdown to the Lok Sabha elections had begun and called upon all activists to fan out to each village to highlight the Modi government's achievements. "We don't want to fight the next elections on slogans or empty poll promises but on the basis of the government's achievements," he said.   

3) Ravi Shankar Prasad says BJP a party of all Indians: BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said on the party's foundation day on Friday that the BJP was a big platform of "national unity" and a party of all Indians and for the whole of India. Prasad said that broadly three categories of people opposed the party – the Leftist, the Congress, and "chronic socialists other than Ram Manohar Lohia", and it was clear where all these people stood today.   

4) Amit Shah addresses BJP rally at BKC venue in Mumbai:

  • BJP wants Shiv Sena to stick with it: Amit Shah said that it was the BJP's earnest desire that the Shiv Sena continued its alliance with it, reported news agency ANI. 

Hamari haardik icchha hai ke sath mein rahe: BJP President Amit Shah on Shiv Sena.

— ANI (@ANI) April 6, 2018
  • Shah says BJP won't scrap quota policy: Amit Shah today asserted that the Modi government will neither scrap the reservation policy nor allow anyone else to do so, amid a raging controversy related to the alleged dilution of the SC/ST Act following a Supreme Court ruling. "Rahul Gandhi and others are saying that we are demolishing reservation for SCs and STs. We are in no way demolishing the reservation (policy)," Shah said in his address on the occasion of the BJP's 38th Foundation Day. He went on to add, "Rahul and (NCP chief Sharad) Pawar, listen. BJP will never end the reservation policy. And even if you want to end the reservation, BJP will never allow it." 
  • Taking a dig at Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Amit Shah said: “Rahul Gandhi seeks a report of our work in four years (the Narendra Modi govt so far). I want to tell Rahul Gandhi that the people of this country seek the report of their work in four generations.”
  • To counter the Modi wave in the country, snakes, cats, and mongooses have all come together to fight a united battle against us in elections, the BJP president said.
  • Further, Amit Shah said that this was not the BJP's "golden period". Instead, according to the BJP chief, the "party's golden period would begin "when it forms the government in West Bengal and Odisha and wins the Lok Sabha elections 2019.  
  • Countdown for 2019 has begun, says Amit Shah: "Narendra Modi is the world's most popular prime minister. BJP workers should spread the word about Modi government's works, and set the stage for 2019 Lok Sabha election." BJP chief Amit Shah told party cadres in Mumbai.
  • Taking a dig at Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Shah said, "When we lost two Lok Sabha seats recently and Rahul Gandhi distributed sweets. He is the first leader I've seen who would do this." "Today, 20 states are ruled by BJP. This is a thing of joy for the party."
  • Budget Session washed out because of Opposition, says Amit Shah: BJP president Amit Shah said, "We were ready to address all issues in the Parliament. It was the Opposition that disrupted the proceedings. Ghulam Nabi Azad, you fix the stage and we'll be up for debate. We have nothing to hide."
  • "On the foundation day of BJP, I want to congratulate millions of party workers and well-wishers of the party. Our party started with 10 members. Now we are the largest political party in India. BJP has sacrificed the highest number of workers in the history of India's democracy, I pay homage to all the workers. Our party started with 10 members and today we have more than 11 crore members. Bharatiya Janata Party has succeeded in creating an organizational, patriotic and good governing party in its journey of years."

5) Nitin Gadkari says BJP cadre ready to sacrifice for India: Union shipping minister Nitin Gadkari said, "If there is a party which has cadres willing to sacrifice themselves for the country's progress, then it is BJP. You know, the term 'secular' is often used in India's politics. The day the poor gets roti, kapda, makaan (food, clothing and shelter),,. that is when we will know we have achieved something."  

He also spoke on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision for 'new India'. "For New India, we need research, and technology. We want to use technology to bring good governance and development," he said. 

6) Trains delayed, traffic hit as BJP workers pour in for rally: Several trains arrived late here after BJP workers, being ferried in special services for the party's 38th Foundation Day rally at BKC, insisted on unscheduled halts enroute, Western Railway officials on condition of anonymity said today. 

The BJP, in order to bring in as many workers as possible for its rally, had chartered 28 trains, with 11 of them terminating on WR and 17 on CR, said officials.

However, BJP workers alleged that their special trains were late by two to five hours as the Railways did not run them on priority. 

Rail activist Subhash Gupta, who was tasked with the railway arrangement by the BJP, confirmed that trains came in late but refused to blame the Railways.

"It is true that all the trains arrived late on Central and Western Railways. But we should not blame the Railways as special trains are run for a specific purpose and they are operated in a certain manner so that the schedules of regular trains are not hit or compromised," Gupta said.

7) Narendra Modi tweets, 'Karyakartas are everything': On the BJP's 38th Foundation Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today credited party workers for taking the organisation to new heights. The BJP is the party of "a New India" and his party "believes in India's diversity, its unique culture and the strengths of 125 crore Indians", he said. 

"For @BJP4India, the Karyakartas are everything. They are the heart and soul of the party, whose sweat has taken the Party to new heights. It is due to their efforts that we have the honour to serve people all over India and fulfil their aspirations. #IndiaTrustsBJP.

"I bow all @BJP4India Karyakartas on the special occasion of the Party's Sthapana Diwas," Modi said in a series of tweets.

The prime minister said at 4:30 PM today he will interact with party volunteers through a live video interaction, via the Narendra Modi Mobile App.

8) BJP Foundation Day celebration will see over 300,000 party workers: The 'Maha Rally' at the Bandra Kurla Complex in Central Mumbai will have in attendance Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis among other party members who are to arrive from across the state. BJP had booked 28 trains and 50,000 private buses and vehicles for the mega event.  

I thank my sisters and brothers of India for their unwavering faith in @BJP4India. It is our commitment that we will continue to devote ourselves towards India’s transformation. #IndiaTrustsBJP

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 6, 2018

At 4:30 this evening, I look forward to a very special interaction. I will interact with thousands of @BJP4India Karyakartas through a live video interaction, via the Narendra Modi Mobile App.

It is always special to interact with hardworking Karyakartas!

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 6, 2018

The BJP is the party of a New India. We are privileged to receive the blessings of people of all age groups, across all sections of society. We are a Party that believes in India’s diversity, our unique culture and, above all, the strengths of 125 crore Indians! #IndiaTrustsBJP

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 6, 2018

9) Mumbai braces for heavy traffic: Residents of Mumbai will have to brace for massive traffic jams ahead of the BJP's foundation day celebrations planned at the MMRDA grounds in Bandra Kurla Complex in the heart of the city today.

T 2765 - A 30 min drive .. takes 5 hours .. ! thats the Phantom movie camera moving at 500 frames per second .. Film City to JVPD Scheme, Juhu .. normal camera moves at 24 frames ..

— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) April 5, 2018

Heavy traffic jam near D Airport due to BJP rally.. Mr CM hv u inform people in adv abt this inconvenience ?? Missed my train @Dev_Fadnavis

— Vinay Chopda (@vinaychopda) April 5, 2018

10) Mumbai police warns students who have exams: The Mumbai Police have issued advisories for those travelling in areas around the Western Express Highway. "Traffic congestion is likely to occur on approach roads to Western Express Highway and Eastern Express Highway towards BKC. Commuters are advised to avoid Santa Cruz Chembur Link Road (SCLR), Surve Junction on LBS Road, Sion Junction, Dharavi T Junction, Hansbhugra Marg, CST Road, Nehru Road till Ambedkar Junction and Sharadadevi Road as far as possible," the advisory read. Students appearing for exams and commuters going towards airports/railway stations may plan in advance and travel as per advisory," the advisory added.  

Watch: BJP President Amit Shah addresses a press conference in Mumbai today on BJP's 38th foundation day 

LIVE : Shri @AmitShah is addressing a press conference in Mumbai.

— BJP (@BJP4India) April 6, 2018

With agency inputs

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