Video Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam
"No matter what song is being sung, the truth is different. The label is something, but the product is different," said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the morning of Tuesday, 18 July while attacking the Opposition meeting in Bengaluru.
A few hours later, the Opposition alliance of 26 parties met in Bengaluru and decided to call the group 'INDIA' or the 'Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance.'
The battle lines have been drawn for the NDA vs INDIA for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and the BJP decided to not shy away from the show of strength while repeatedly claiming a figure of 38 parties.
Here four key takeaways and observations from the NDA meet.
1. Chest-Thumping Numbers
The NDA meet was clearly timed to counter the Opposition's show of unity in Bengaluru, with the constant repetition of the figure 38 against INDIA's 26.
Firstly, this slightly deviates from the usual narrative of 'one man is enough' spun for and by PM Modi. By getting every ally in one frame, the move can also be seen as an attempt to quell the narrative of the Opposition that the BJP discards its allies after it is done with them.
Second, out of these 38 parties, many have no representation in the Lok Sabha.
2. Non-BJP Leaders At the Forefront
When PM Modi arrived at the venue, five leaders welcomed him:
Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde, Shiv Sena
Former Tamil Nadu CM E Palanisamy, AIADMK
Ex-Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi, Hindustani Awam Morcha
Nagaland CM Neiphu Rio, NDPP
BJP chief JP Nadda
All four non-BJP leaders are from the states where the BJP is either a secondary player or not in power. The message was clear — be it somebody like Eknath Shinde who is working to keep the divided Shiv Sena going or a Neiphu Rio from Nagaland, all are equally important for the BJP.
However, each of the NDA allies, old or new, have only cited PM Modi's development agenda while deciding to join or stay with the NDA, making the BJP the clear boss within the alliance.
3. Prominence to Newer Allies
Newer admissions like Chirag Paswan, finally, or rather, hurriedly being inducted or the inclusion of Akhilesh's former ally OP Rajbhar send a clear message that all those interested in joining the NDA bandwagon despite past differences are more than welcome.
PM Modi didn't just greet but even hugged Chirag Paswan whose Lok Janshakti Party split after Ram Vilas Paswan's death, his uncle Pashupati Paras took over the name and symbol, and is now a Union Minister. Upendra Kushwaha's RLJD has also joined the NDA.
Even Ajit Pawar, who recently joined the Maharashtra government by splitting the NCP, was in the front row in the group photo along with Modi, Nadda, and Home Minister Amit Shah, Nitin Gadkari, and Rajnath Singh.
4. Opposition Unity PM Modi's Clear Target
With the timing of the NDA meet being clearly strategic, PM Modi on Tuesday morning hurled the choicest of taunts, songs, and poems at the Opposition alliance.
From reciting Lata Mangeshkar's famous 'Ek Chehre Pe Kai Chehre Laga Lete Hain Log' to calling the Opposition parties an Alliance of corrupt Dynasts serving interest of their own alliance, PM Modi dedicated a good 15 minutes.
At his address in the meeting, PM Modi listed the NDA's achievements while once again attacking the Opposition parties and said that no matter how much they pretend to be united, they still remain divided in their respective states.
"NDA Gathmbandhan majboori ka nahi, majbooti ka bandhan hai," said PM Modi to clearly point out the ideological differences between several parties.