Taking a swipe at Congress president Rahul Gandhi for his efforts to form a front to take on the BJP in 2019 polls, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on Sunday that the driver of the opposition alliance wagon doesn't even have a learner's licence and could drive it into a ditch.
Naqvi also said it was out of compulsion that some opposition leaders, even the experienced ones, are backing Gandhi.
"On one hand there is Narendra Modi and on the other is Rahul Gandhi, who works for four days and then he is on a picnic for four months, while Prime Minister Modi, in the last four years, has not taken leave even for four-and-a-half hours. This is the difference," he told PTI in an interview.
Talking about the opposition alliance, the Minority Affairs Minister said a big coalition was being formed against the BJP and he has been told that National Conference (NC) chief Farooq Abdullah is coordinating it.
Naqvi said the NC chief is an experienced politician and senior people should understand that the "person sitting on the driver's seat of the alliance's wagon does not even have a learner's licence and (therefore) whether this wagon will be driven into a ditch or dumped elsewhere, the experienced people should know".
"Itne khiladi ek anari ke peeche chal rahe hain toh hum kya kar sakte hain (so many experienced people are walking behind a novice, so what can we do)," the 61-year-old leader said.
Naqvi also exuded confidence that the performance of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls will match the 2014 showing.
"Last time we fought the election on Narendra Modi's 'naam' (name), this time we are fighting the polls on his 'kaam' (work)," the Rajya Sabha MP said.
Asked if there was any merit in the opposition argument that the BJP lost the polls in the Hindi heartland states of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh due to agrarian distress, Naqvi said the BJP did not lose any vote percentage and its seats have also not been drastically reduced.
"However, in the states we have lost, we will take a feedback and act," he said.
As far as agrarian issues are concerned, the first budget of this government had the theme of 'mera gaon, mera desh' whose focus was on farmers, Naqvi pointed out.
"From insurance scheme, soil health cards and neem-coated urea to MSP increase, several steps have been taken in the interest of the farmers. In the coming days we will do more," he said.
Asked about incidents of lynchings creating insecurity among minorities, the Minority Affairs Minister said that they should be seen as criminal incidents and not as communal incidents.
"This is not only a crime but a heinous crime. State governments also deal with them as criminal incidents and take action against the culprits," he said.
Naqvi emphasised that in the last four years, no big communal riot has taken place in the country.
"Another important thing is that in any part of the country, no terrorist attack, blast or such activities, have been successful. I am saying this because when a terrorist activity takes place, people get killed, which is very sad, but innocent minorities and people from the Muslim community also suffer.
"In the last 10 years (before the NDA government), wherever there has been a blast, young people (from minority community) were arrested and the innocent ones are now being let off by courts under this government," he said.
Minority communities, especially Muslims, are staying in the country fully secure and with a lot of freedom, he said.
Naqvi alleged that there were "political forces" in the country that keep running a campaign of misinformation and fear.