Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah on Wednesday categorically said that the ruling NDA will fight the 2019 Lok Sabha elections under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"No question of leadership change... The NDA and the BJP will contest the 2019 elections under the leadership of Modiji... We shall win with a higher majority," Shah said, speaking at the 'Surging India' "Republic TV" summit.
"In 2014, the BJP had government in six states, now we have it in 16 states. So tell me who will win?" the BJP chief shot back to a query by private TV channel head Arnab Goswami.
Shah's statement assumes significance after a prominent Maharashtra farmers' leader, the Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission (VNSSM) Chairman Kishore Tiwari wrote to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat and general secretary Bhaiyyaji Suresh Joshi, demanding immediate replacement of an "arrogant" Modi with the "gentle" Nitin Gadkari if the BJP wants to win the next elections.
Shah added that state and central elections are fought on different issues and "the 2019 elections shall be fought on India..."
Setting the agenda for the 2019 elections, the BJP chief also said that the issues discussed will be corruption, national security, how the country's image has gone up in the world and the vastly improved law and order situation.
The polls will be fought on how the BJP-led government has worked for the upliftment of millions of poor people by way of five crore gas connections, eight crore toilets, 2.50 crore electric connections, 2.50 crore homes built, medical security for 50 crore people, how every home in the country has a bank account and other achievements of the government in the past four years.
"Besides, there is not a single allegation of corruption against this government in the past five years... This is something that has not been seen in the country since long," Shah emphasised.
Even after giving a tough fight, however, whatever be the mandate would be acceptable to the BJP, Shah though made it clear.
In a veiled attack aimed at the Congress and the Gandhi family, the BJP leader said that since 1960, the country has been in the grip of three monsters -- 'casteism', 'parivaar-vaad' and 'appeasement'.
"We have neutralised 'appeasement' by discarding vote-bank politics, we don't take decision liked by the people but that which benefit them. The 'family' (Gandhis) has been almost finished and 'casteism' is largely under control," he explained.
On the opposition-formed 'Mahagathbandhan' that might challenge the BJP, Shah pointed out that the opposing 'Grand Alliance' comprises largely state or regional leaders who will "not make any impact in other states... but they would fight against the BJP in all states.
"We are not bothered about who will be opposite Modi... We are going to fight the elections on the government's strengths and achievements, not weaknesses," said Shah.
To a question on its blow-hot-blow-cold ally in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena, Shah said: "I believe and am confident that they will be with us in 2019. I cannot disclose anything more."
Countering the voting figures in the five states and other data presented by Goswami, the BJP chief dismissed them saying they appear different on the table but mean something else in the electoral battle-fields.