Modi's BJP party kicks into election mode in India with massive rally

Amit Shah, president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in the Indian capital New Delhi on March 3, 2018. (Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images)

(CNN)One year ahead of the next general elections, India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) got into campaign mode by staging a 300,000-strong rally in Mumbai.

The massive rally in the country's financial capital on Friday, was a move seen as a show of strength ahead of expected general elections, which are due by May 2019.
The rally was fronted by the BJP's powerful president, Amit Shah, a close friend of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who used the platform to hammer Opposition party chief Rahul Gandhi, taunting him Gandhi with the nickname, "Rahul Baba," which can mean "baby" in Hindi.
Shah also used the opportunity to praiseModi's four years of governance, rattling off the names of various government programs.
    "We came into government, not for the pleasure of being in power, but to use it as the medium of power to work for the welfare of the poor," he told the gathering, many of whom were ferried to the city on the thousands of buses and 28 trains the BJP had booked to transport its supporters.
    Modi, in a tweet Friday called the BJP "the party of a New India".
    "We are privileged to receive the blessings of people of all age groups, across all sections of society."
    BJP swept to power in 2014 with promises to boost income levels, but two disruptive policy changes slightly dented the party and the prime minister's popularity.
    The first was when Modi stunned the country in November 2016 by abruptly banning its two largest currency notes, leading to a sharp slump in many sectors of India's cash economy.
    The second was a landmark overhaul of the tax system last July, which disrupted businesses as many companies struggled to adapt to the new regime.