SHORT of a majority and needing the support of his allies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday framed the mandate and the road ahead in terms that were conciliatory signaling a reaching out to states and to parties across the aisle.

Addressing the elected MPs of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Friday, including BJP Chief Ministers and Deputy CMs, Modi described the NDA as a “30-year-old”, “organic” alliance, and underlined that it had run successful governments for three terms during this period.

He also stressed that the NDA mirrored “India’s diversity”, mentioning different social groups, referring to the coalition multiple times in his speech and avoiding mentioning himself in the third person.

Clearly, this was a signal that this wasn’t a one-man show and that the party was ready to show accommodation as needed. More importantly, that this was not a setback for the BJP but a “continuation”.

The tone of the NDA meeting was set by Defense Minister Rajnath Singh who, speaking before Modi and proposing the resolution to elect him as the leader of the NDA parliamentary group, described the NDA alliance as not a “compulsion” but a “commitment”. Union ministers Amit Shah and Nitin Gadkari then seconded it.

Festive offer

Having run a tight ship for 10 years, the PM wrapped up his speech telling the new MPs to be wary of media speculation about the new ministry. This was not his style, Modi said, adding: “The country won’t run as per breaking news, yeh maan ke chaliye (let that be clear).”

‘Organic alliance’

Calling the NDA “not a collection of some parties for the sake of power (a swipe at INDIA),” Modi said it stood on the shoulders of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Parkash Singh Badal, Balasaheb Thackeray, George Fernandes, Sharad Yadav who “sowed this seed…that has become a tree.”

Interestingly, those sitting on the dais with him, like Nitish Kumar, Naidu and HD Kumaraswamy of the JDS, have been in and out of the NDA in the past.

‘Not a defeat’

Avoiding any reference to the 63-seat dip, Modi talked about the “resounding” NDA victory. “Na haare the, na haare hain (We did not lose then, we haven’t lost now)… Everyone knows it is a government of the NDA. To haare kaise bhai (So, how did we lose)?”

In contrast, Modi said, “Even after 10 years, the Congress has not been able to touch 100. Add the seats of the Congress in the past three elections… we got more than that this time.”

Explaining the BJP’s relatively muted reaction to the results, he said: “We know how to digest victory. We don’t spread unmaad (hysteria). We don’t mock the defeated.”

’22 states… India’s spirit, soul’

Modi stressed on the NDA’s geographical expanse, saying its parties represented diverse social groups, thus tacitly bringing in a social justice and religious diversity angle – two issues which INDIA is believed to have used to its advantage in these elections.

“See the strength of democracy that people have given the NDA a chance to serve them in 22 states. Our alliance mirrors India’s spirit and soul. There are 10 states in India where tribals have a significant presence. Among these, the NDA is serving in seven. We are dedicated toSarva Panth, Sama Bhava (All Religions, Same Spirit)’.”

Hailing BJP workers from Odisha for the party’s victory there in the Assembly elections and its clean sweep of the Lok Sabha seats, with a slogan of “Mahaprabhu Jagannath”, Modi added: “Be it Goa or the Northeast, where Christians are in significant numbers, we have had a chance to serve the people… In South India, the NDA has laid the foundation of a new politics.”

’10 more years’

According to Modi, the NDA partners were also bound together by the fact that “good governance was common to all”. He cited his term in Gujarat, Chandrababu Naidu’s previous government in Andhra Pradesh and Nitish Kumar’s work in Bihar as examples.

He added, “The country has lived under the NDA for 10 years. People saw what a government is, who it works for, for the first time. In the next 10 years, the NDA government – ​​it will be there for the next 10 years, I say it seriously – will bring good governance, development and minimal dakhal (interference) to the lives of the middle-class and upper middle-class. We will write a new chapter of vikasgood governance, and fulfill the dreams of developed India.”

‘Opposition not vipaksh to nation’

Slamming the Opposition over its statements raising questions on the functioning of EVMs, Modi alleged that their aim was to “discredit Indian democracy globally”. “On result day, I asked someone, ‘EVM zinda hai ya mar gaya (are EVMs alive or dead)?’. They wanted to discredit Indian democracy. But by the evening of June 4, the EVMs rendered them quiet. This will be repeated in 2029. They went to the Supreme Court over the matter. They wanted to discredit the country in the world.”

At the same time, Modi reached out to them as well. “Democracy teaches us to respect everyone. I congratulate even Opposition members,” he said, adding that he missed “quality debates” in Parliament and hoped to have those this time. He said that his political rivals were “vipaksh (opposition)” to the government, not the nation.

Speaking before him, key NDA allies declared their clear support for Modi apart from “admiration” for the PM.

Said JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar: “You want to take the oath on Sunday. Hum to chaahte thai aaj hee leejiye (We wanted that it should happen today itself)… We are with you and will work hard with you to take the country forward.”

Nitish added, taking swipes at the opposition, “You are PM for 10 years and will be PM again. You will finish all the unfinished work. We will be with you all the time. I feel that once you return the next time, those who won a few seats here or there will lose everywhere. They say nonsensical things. They have done nothing for the country. You have served the nation. This time that you have got a chance, the next time they will have no chance. We will walk together and we will be with you,” Kumar said.

Nitish indicated he hoped the Modi government would deliver on the JD(U)’s long-pending demands: “Bihar Vihar ka bhi to sab kaam ho hi jaayega. Jo bhi bachaa hai wo bhi kar hi denge (The pending work of Bihar will also happen; what is remaining will also happen).”

Chandrababu Naidu called the results “a wonderful majority” for the NDA. Praising Modi, he said: “I saw during the election campaign how, for three months, PM Modi never took any rest. Day and night, he campaigned… In Andhra Pradesh, we had three public meetings and one big rally, and it made a huge difference.”