Modi says will return with full majority for second time
NEW DELHI, May 17: Narendra Modi left journalists disappointed on Friday as he refused to answer questions at what Indian media had billed as his first-ever press conference as prime minister.
At the event in New Delhi, two days before the end of India's mammoth election, Modi made a statement but then deflected journalists' questions to the president of his party sat next to him. "I am a disciplined soldier, party president is supreme," Modi told one of two reporters who asked him a direct question.
"I have answered your question. It is not necessary
for the PM to answer every question," Shah, president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) told the journalist. "The people have decided that this government should continue. Our government introduced a new culture of governance in India," Modi said.
Modi wrapped up his campaign for a second term in the national elections, predicted his return as prime minister at a joint press conference that he addressed with BJP president Amit Shah.
"It is the first time in many years that a government which had a majority is coming back to power," PM Modi said at his first press conference in five years. "Through all ups and downs, the nation always stood beside me," he added, crediting his government for stressing on "last-mile delivery".
"This is the new culture of governance in India, and this is what the real strength of democracy," said PM Modi.
Modi, 68, is notoriously shy of the media, having never given a press conference since becoming prime minister of the world's largest democracy in 2014.
Critics say Modi knows in advance what he will be asked in television interviews and that the questions are soft and often fawning.
Voting in India's almost seven-week election ends on Sunday with results due on Thursday. Polls, although unreliable, predict Modi will be re-elected but with a reduced majority.
Amit Shah had earlier credited PM Modi's work in the government and his popularity with people for the success of the campaign that he described as one of India's hardest fought election. PM Modi, he said, had addressed 142 election rallies and conducted 4 road shows that let him made direct contact with 1.5 crore people.
Shah echoed Prime Minister Modi who had earlier in the day predicted 300 plus seats for the party. "People have accepted PM Mod's experiment. I have faith that the mandate for the Modi government this time would be far bigger," said Amit Shah.
"The BJP will get a majority on its own and the NDA will form the government… But if there are other parties which want to join (the ruling alliance), they are welcome," Shah said. "We'll perform good in North-East, very good in West Bengal. We'll do good in Odisha and there will be improvement in number of seats in all the states in the South. We'll improve in Maharashtra also," said Amit Shah.
"It is our duty to highlight the fact that India is the biggest democracy in the world. Our nation is full of diversity. Now that the government is able to manage everything together, students' exams, Ramzan, elections, everything is able to go on together," said PM?Modi. -AFP