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At NDA meeting, PM Modi expresses concern over 'needless controversy' over EVMs

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: May 21, 2019  | 23:53 IST

(Eds: Updates story) New Delhi, May 21 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday expressed concern over the "needless controversy" created by the Opposition over EVMs at a meeting of NDA leaders, even as the ruling alliance laid out its agenda for the next five years if it is elected to power again. At the BJP-led ruling alliance meeting, which was attended by 36 parties, a resolution was passed, terming the 2019 general election decisive for the country and pledging to make India "strong, developed, prosperous and inclusive" by 2022 when India completes 75 years of its independence, party leader and Union minister Rajnath Singh told reporters. In his address, Modi stressed on the need to change the narrative from caste lines and orient it for the poor, Singh said. The prime minister expressed concern over the Opposition making "needless controversy" over electronic voting machines, the home minister said. Earlier Tuesday, leaders of 22 opposition parties met the Election Commission and demanded verification of VVPAT slips of randomly-selected polling stations before the counting of the votes. The opposition representation to the EC came barely two days before the counting of votes and after exit poll projections that the BJP-led NDA is likely to return to power. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E K Palaniswami were among the BJP allies who attended the dinner-meeting hosted by BJP chief Amit Shah. And BJP ally and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan proposed the resolution. Paswan, who joined Singh in the media briefing, also dismissed Opposition's protest over EVMs as a case of collective frustration over their impending defeat and also warned them of "tit for tat". He did not elaborate what he meant by that. The chief Lok Janshakti Party chief said Modi also turned emotional when he mentioned the political violence, "targeting" BJP workers, in states of Kerala and West Bengal. The NDA meeting is being seen as NDA's show of strength ahead of counting of votes on May 23, following which a new government will assume charge. Shah had hosted another meeting for Union ministers on Tuesday. The BJP described the meeting as an occasion to thank ministers for their service to the nation. The NDA resolution expressed its concern over the "systematic assault by the Opposition on institutions ranging from the CAG, Election Commission and judiciary to police and armed forces". Modi described the NDA as an alliance of India's hope and aspirations, saying it has become an "organic entity" like a family and is representative of the country's regional aspirations. The NDA leaders at the meeting, which was presided by Akali Dal patriarch Parkash Singh Badal, felicitated the prime minister and praised his council of ministers for their work. The resolution also expressed confidence that the NDA will come back to power under Modi and said its government planned a capital investment of Rs 100 lakh crore in infrastructure while Rs 25 lakh crore will be devoted to farm and rural sectors. It praised the outgoing government's development and welfare initiatives. Singh said its work on the security and diplomatic fronts have ensured that India is no longer seen as a "soft state" by the world. "We resolved that once again under the leadership of PM Modi, by 2022, when India marks 75 years of freedom, it is our endeavour to fulfil the dreams of our great freedom fighters and give shape to the strong, prosperous, developed and inclusive India they dreamt of," it said. Besides representatives of 36 NDA constituents, Singh said leaders of three other parties also sent their letters of support at the alliance meeting. PTI KR ABH ABH

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