Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he would be re-elected with an even bigger majority in parliament in 2019, dismissing opposition attempts to rouse opinion against his government for failing to deliver on promises of swift economic development and more jobs for young people.
Modi told The Times of India
in an interview published on Sunday that his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government is committed to improving the lives of all citizens regardless of faith.
Concerns have grown that his administration has been unable to rein in right-wing fringe groups that are trying to undermine India's secular constitution by targeting the nation's large Muslim minority.
"We will definitely get more seats than we got the last time and I am confident that we will break all records of the seats won by NDA (National Democratic Alliance) in the past and achieve greater glory.
"The people are with us and we have nothing to fear," Modi told the newspaper in an email interview.
Opinion polls show he remains the front runner to win another five-year term, but the party has suffered reverses in some local elections in the past few months that have energised the opposition.
The BJP failed to win power in southern Karnataka in May, the first big state to elect a new assembly this year in a contest widely seen as a test of its popularity after four years in office. It also lost a few races in the big heartland state of Uttar Pradesh in the north.
But Modi said voters wanted a strong and decisive central government to deliver on India's promise as a big economy and one of the potential drivers of global growth.
"My platform will be development, fast development and development for all...We have worked very hard in the last four years and we will go to the people with our track record of development," Modi said.
The opposition, led by the Congress party, is trying to pull together a grand alliance of regional parties and even communist groups to mount a joint campaign against Modi, who is seen as a divisive figure pushing a partisan, Hindu-first agenda.
Attacks on Muslims who are engaged in the cattle trade by Hindu vigilante groups who are opposed to the slaughter of cows have fueled fears that the government is either unable or unwilling to restrain them.
Modi's party denies any bias against Muslims and he told The Times of India
that his government believes in equality in the rule of law for all citizens.
The BJP won 282 seats in the 2014 general election, giving it a simple majority in the lower house of Parliament. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) won 336 seats out of 543.
The opposition last month moved a no-confidence vote against the government but Modi easily survived thanks to his parliamentary majority.