Responding to a series of questions moderated by CBFC chief Prasoon Joshi, Modi said his problem is not against criticism. “To criticize, one has to research and find proper facts. Sadly, it does not happen now. What happens instead is allegations," Modi said during his more than two-hour long interaction. “I want this government to be criticized. Criticism makes democracy strong. Democracy cannot succeed without constructive criticism," he added.
Modi on dynastic politics of the Congress
Earlier, the government was centred around a family but people have shown that in democracy, even a tea seller can become their representative and shake hands at the royal palace, said Modi during ‘Bharat ki Baat, Sabe Saath’ programme. Noting that there is big difference between “then and now", the prime minister said “when the policy is clear, intention is clear, and the intentions are noble, then you can achieve the desired result".
‘Indians have become aspirational’
“If a person has a cycle, a person aspires a scooter. If a person has a scooter, a person aspires a car. It is natural to aspire. India is getting increasingly aspirational," he said. “Earlier, people had adopted a ‘chalta hai’ attitude but now they have high expectations from us," Modi said, adding that the 125 crore people of India now feel excitement, hope and expectation.
“If you will see where we stand in comparison to previous government, I can affirm that we left no stone unturned in doing good for the country on any parameter. You all must have seen that the power of your passport has increased. People look at you with pride. India is still is the same. But today we can see a difference. Indian has managed to do this and now people know the power of India," Modi said, comparing his government’s achievements with that of his predecessors.
PM Narendra Modi on surgical strikes against Pakistan
Warning Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted that India will not tolerate those who like to export terror and will respond to them “in the language they understand", referring to the 2016 surgical strikes conducted across the LoC in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
When “someone has put a terror export factory in place and makes attempts to attack us from the back, Modi knows how to answer in the same language", said the prime minister. Modi’s remarks came in response to a question on the surgical strikes by a member of the audience.
Narendra Modi on Modicare
Responding to a question on Modicare, the prime minister said his government was working for the health of every Indian. “Our focus is on three things: education for students, employment for youth and medicines for the elderly," he said, adding that the Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission will cover more than 10 crore poor families providing them health insurance of up to Rs5 lakh per family annually. He hoped that more than 1,000 hospitals will come up in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities in the near future because of Modicare.
On Unnao and Kathua rape cases
Rape is rape and should not be politicized, Modi said, adding that the Unnao and Kathua rape cases were a matter of shame for India.
“Rape is rape ... How can we accept this?" Modi said at the ‘Bharat ki Baat, Sabka Saath’ event, adding that people needed to ask more questions of the perpetrators.
“We always ask our daughters about what they are doing, where they are going. We must ask our sons too." The person who is committing these crimes is also someone’s son, he said. “I have never indulged in counting the number of rape incidents in this government and that government. Rape is rape, be it now or earlier. It is extremely sad. Don’t politicize rape incidents," the prime minister said. The rape of a daughter is a matter of shame for the country, he said.
Narendra Modi on his Israel visit
The prime minister, during the interaction, asked what prevented his predecessors from going to Israel, referring to previous governments’ policy of avoiding highest-level visit to the Jewish state. “Yes, I will go to Israel and I will even go to Palestine," said Modi, who is the first Indian prime minister to travel to both Israel and Palestine in two separate visits. “I will further cooperation with Saudi Arabia and for the energy needs of India I will also engage with Iran," Modi said, referring to the two middle east oil-rich power centres who are at odds with each other.
Modi on Mahatma Gandhi
Invoking the father of nation, Modi said that during the freedom struggle, Mahatma Gandhi did something very different and he turned the freedom struggle into a mass movement. “He told every person that whatever you are doing will contribute to India’s freedom. Today, the need of the hour is to make development a mass movement," the prime minister said, adding that he was determined to bring about a positive change in the lives of India’s poor.
Modi protests in London
Hundreds of noisy protesters greeted Modi when he arrived in London on Wednesday, demonstrating over a rising tide of sexual violence at home, including the Unnao and Kathua rape cases.
Holding placards reading “Modi Go Home" and “We stand against Modi’s agenda of hate and greed", protesters gathered outside Downing Street and parliament as Modi arrived for talks with Prime Minister Theresa May.
“The Indian government are doing nothing, and you feel sorry for the families because of the total injustice of it all," said Navindra Singh, an Indian-born lawyer who lives in Britain. “He has been in power for four years now and there has been no policy change to help protect women and children."
PTI and Reuters contributed to this story.