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Prime Minster Narendra Modi. Photo: Reuters
Prime Minster Narendra Modi. Photo: Reuters

Narendra Modi breaks silence on Ram Mandir, sets the tone for 2019

In an interview with ANI on the first day of the new year, PM Narendra Modi attacked Congress in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, saying people will vote for a regime that will fulfil their aspirations

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday launched a scathing attack on the Congress over allegations of corruption in public office, dealing in half-truths to make political gains and at the same time batted for the rule of law even on the issue of building a Ram Mandir at the disputed site in Ayodhya. According to the prime minister, during 2019 Lok Sabha elections, people will vote for the regime they believe will deliver on their aspirations.

In a 95-minute long interview, his first in 2019, granted to Asian News International (ANI), Modi fielded tough questions on his government’s tenure and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but demonstrated political poise in addressing them. In the process, the prime minister sought to out-think the opposition in setting the agenda for the 2019 showdown.

Significantly, Modi granted the interview at a time when the opposition, particularly the Congress, the principal rival, has its tail up after having dislodged three BJP governments in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.

Ram Mandir

Modi made it clear that an ordinance to build a Ram Mandir would arise only after the Supreme Court, which is hearing the matter, delivers its verdict.

“The ordinance on triple talaq was brought after the verdict of Supreme Court. We want the issue to be solved within the framework of Constitution. The ordinance on Ram Mandir can arise only after legal process gets over and Supreme Court gives its verdict," Modi said.

However, he blamed the Congress, especially those who have appeared as lawyers in the dispute, for delaying the judicial process in the Ram temple issue. “I would urge the Congress not to allow their lawyers to delay judicial process," Modi added.

Rafale deal

Addressing a question on the allegations levelled against him by Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Modi retorted, in a veiled reference to the National Herald case, that people who are making these charges were out on bail and were facing allegations of financial irregularities.

“It is a fact that those considered first family, who ran the country for four generations, are out on bail, that too for financial irregularities. It is a big thing. A set of people, who are at their service, are trying to suppress such information and push other narratives," Modi said.

The PM also drew attention to the clean chit given by the Supreme Court in the Rafale deal dispute as well as the statements issued by the French President dismissing claims of any mala fide intention.

Vijay Mallya

Modi denied charges that the Union government had failed to bring back alleged economic offenders like Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi to India. According to him they had to flee because the new regime had begun to investigate and charge individuals for white collar crimes.

“Why did they run away from the country? They ran away because they knew that they will have to pay every penny back. The government is making diplomatic efforts to get them back. We also made stringent laws which allows us to confiscate their properties both in India and abroad. These people fled the country because they realised that the government had changed and the present regime would allow them to continue like this," PM said.

The Opposition

In the course of the interview, Modi also questioned the idea of a Mahagathbandhan or grand alliance being put together to challenge the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). He said that instead of talking about the aspirations of the people, political parties were coming together just to oppose Modi.

“The corrupt are coming together. Why is the grand alliance forming? They do not even speak in one language, these political leaders are only protecting themselves. They just want to target Modi. People of India will decide the outcome of the elections and set the agenda for the elections. People will support those who understands the aspirations of the people and is connected to the people," he added.

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