As campaigning for the sixth phase of 2019 Lok Sabha polls came to an end on Friday, BJP president Amit Shah claimed that his party will improve its 2014 tally by winning at atleast 53 more seats in the 2019 parliamentary polls.
''BJP will better its 2014 tally of 282 seats in this Lok Sabha poll. Out party will win more than 55 new seats this time,'' saffron party chief Amit Shah claimed.
The BJP national president predicted that his party will win at least 55 new seats, propelled by the NDA government's focus on national security and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's massive appeal across the country.
Shah further claimed that BJP will get more than 23 seats in West Bengal and somewhere between 13-15 in Odisha.
Sha made these claims while speaking to news aganecy PTI during which he also accused Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Vadra for their criticism of PM Modi for latter's comment on their father late Rajiv Gandhi.
"They cannot run away from their past however hard they may try," Shah aserted.
Shah also talked about various aspects of the high-stakes election, where a fragmented opposition is taking on the BJP-led NDA, which hopes to retain power, riding on its nationalism and development planks.
The BJP had swept the 2014 Lok Sabha polls by winning 282 of 543 Lok Sabha seats.
Asserting that the BJP will get a majority on its own, the 54-year-old BJP president said that he has succeeded in his plan to expand the BJP's base across coastal and eastern states, where it has been traditionally weak.
The party will win more than 23 seats in West Bengal and 13-15 seats in Odisha, he added.
The BJP had won two and one seats in these two states respectively in 2014.
Shah informed that ever since he took over the BP chief, he had set his eyes on atleast 120 seats spread across the country, which he thought were ''potentially winnable.''
The party had lost them in 2014.
"The BJP will win more than 55 of those constituencies," he added.
When asked if the BJP will be able to repeat 2014 feat when it had swept north and west India, he said some seats may go this way or that way but his party will get an overall majority.
Responding to a question on Congress leadership making a full frontal attack on PM Modi for his sharp attack on Rajiv Gandhi, Shah questioned, "why he or Jawaharlal Nehru cannot be criticised simply because they are from the Gandhi family."
"Did the Bofors scam not happen under him (Rajiv Gandhi)? Did the Bhopal gas tragedy accuse not escape when he was in power? Why should there not be a debate over these issues? Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra cannot run away from their past however much they try," he said.
PM Modi had dubbed the late prime minister as "bhrashtachari no 1", drawing ire of several top Congress leaders as well as other opposition parties.
The BJP president also mocked Rahul Gandhi over his claim that PM Modi should pack his bags, and said let May 23 come and "we will see who gets to pack his bags".
The counting of votes for the seven-phase general elections, which will end on May 19, will be on May 23.
With national security being the central theme of the BJP's campaign, Shah said nationalism has been his party's inspiration since its inception.
He claimed that people were feeling safe and proud under Modi's leadership following surgical strikes and Balakot air strikes in Pakistan which, he added, has been waging a proxy war against India since 1990 through terrorism but India was "a little soft" in dealing with it.
"After 2014 surgical strikes and air strikes, people now feel safe and proud. They stand with the Modi government like a rock on this issue," he said.
Asked how much the national security issue is helping the BJP in the polls, he said it is benefitting his party and added that it is for political pundits to evaluate its real impact.
"For the BJP, nationalism, national security is not a matter of electoral loss and win but an issue of belief," Shah said.
To a question, if the BJP is looking at regional satraps like KC Rao and Naveen Patnaik, chief minister of Telangana and Odisha respectively, as potential allies after polls, Shah said they are welcome to join the ruling National Democratic Alliance but asserted that the saffron party will get a majority on its own.
With five phases of the general election over, he also reiterated his claim that the BJP will win more than 73 seats of the 80 in Uttar Pradesh it had won in 2014 along with its ally Apna Dal and not less.
Asked about the strong social arithmetic in the favour of Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance in the largest state, Shah shot back, "You people look at arithmetic. I look at people's sentiments and they are fully with PM Modi."
To a question as to what issue was resonating most among the public, Shah said it for the first time the people of India believe that they have a prime minister who thinks about them and have improved their lives.