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Business News/ Politics / News/  PM Modi interview: Tsunami of ‘Jan Samarthan’ for BJP… seats to significantly increase in West Bengal, Odisha, Kerala
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PM Modi interview: Tsunami of ‘Jan Samarthan’ for BJP… seats to significantly increase in West Bengal, Odisha, Kerala

There is no scope for complacency in the BJP as it is here to fulfil the vision of Viksit Bharat by 2047, says Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the public meeting for the Lok Sabha and Odisha Assembly Polls, in Kandhamal on Saturday (ANI)Premium
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the public meeting for the Lok Sabha and Odisha Assembly Polls, in Kandhamal on Saturday (ANI)

Ahead of the fourth phase of polling, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with HT’s R Sukumar, Shishir Gupta, and Sunetra Choudhury and spoke about the state of the campaign, and the focus of his next government should the BJP return to power. He also sent detailed written responses to questions. Edited excerpts:

Your government did not announce any major populist schemes in the interim budget before the elections, perhaps confident in its own delivery record? How has this played out in the campaign, especially with the Opposition focusing significantly on freebies?

People realise that we have worked hard for them in the last 10 years. People have seen the difference in their lives. Due to our track record, we did not need any populist measures going into elections. People also see this as a sign of our government’s earnest behaviour.

The people have seen the speed and scale with which we deliver our promises. They saw that this government inherited a country that was one of the ‘Fragile 5’ economies at the time and scaled it up to become the fastest-growing economy of the world. We have kept the average inflation at its lowest record in one decade. Our unemployment rate is the lowest in the world.

The work that has taken place in the last one decade is more than the work done in seven decades since Independence. We have more than doubled the number of airports from 74 to more than 150 in 10 years. The length of national highways has gone up from 91,000 km to 1,45,000 km within a decade. India was once a cash dependent economy. Today, we are dominating the real time payments globally with a lion share of 46%. Our defence exports have crossed 21,000 crore mark.

We have liberated the country from legacy issues. Be it huge NPAs endangering the Indian banking system or abrogating Article 370 ushering a new era of peace in Jammu & Kashmir.

Today, we’ve built a strong economy that will serve as the base for India’s next 25 years. In fact, our Sankalp Patra isn’t just about the next five years. It’s about making long-lasting changes and outlining the roadmap that will lead to a Viksit Bharat by 2047.

In these 10 years, we’ve shown the world that true progress is about empowering every citizen and giving them the tools they need to succeed. Our focus has been on empowering the poor, creating opportunities for them to thrive.

We’ve made sure that 80 crore people have access to free ration, more than 50 crore people have their own bank accounts, 11 crore toilets are built and 60 crore people have access to quality health care without shouldering the immense financial burden.

Our policies are centered around uplifting the poor, ensuring that they’re at the heart of everything we do. In fact, in the last 10 years, 25 crore people have come out of poverty in India.

The Opposition’s agenda is either to snatch people’s wealth or ensure faith based reservations by denying the rights of SC, ST and OBC communities. All they want is “Modi Hatao". People will not fall for such regressive and communal politics.

 

Which are the states where you can see the BJP making gains from its 2019 tally? And why?

It is the overwhelming will of the people across India to bring us back with a historic mandate. I have held public meetings and roadshows across the country and wherever I go I see a tsunami of ‘Jan Samarthan’ (popular endorsement) for our party. Across India, people have witnessed how a strong, decisive and sensitive government has secured the nation and solidified its position in the world. People are fed up of corruption, dynastic politics, minority appeasement, ruining state after state wherever there is (a) INDI Alliance (government). Therefore, they want NDA again. Our gains will come from all parts of the country and some of the gains will come from areas that will surprise political Pundits.

You will see Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala register a significant increase in our seats.

You focused a lot on the southern states this time. Especially, Tamil Nadu and Kerala are seen as the last peak remaining for the BJP to conquer. What do you think needs to be done?

We do not subscribe to a mindset of conquest. We are working with a feeling of service towards 140 crore Indians. For us, every part of India has to be served.

Our connection with the people of South India, including Tamil Nadu and Kerala is not new. We’ve dedicated ourselves to serving the people there, regardless of whether we are in government or not. Our karyakartas have been working selflessly for decades, many even sacrificed their lives in the process.

People are tired of the corruption, appeasement, and family first politics of the INDI Alliance seen in various southern states. In Andhra Pradesh, there is breakdown of governance threatening the future of the youth in the state. In Telangana and Karnataka, too, a nexus of corruption has been established with Congress in the lead. In a matter of a few months, Congress has managed to hollow out the public treasury and bring the states closer to a state of bankruptcy. Same is the case in Tamil Nadu, where there is corruption and dynastic politics.

 

On the other hand, people have witnessed how effectively Modi ki Guarantee works. They have seen our work, our commitment to their well-being, and our dedication to bring inclusive development, clean governance, and transparency. This time around, our performance will be unprecedented.

I see a strong sense of positivity and enthusiasm for the BJP. Our message of development and progress is resonating strongly with the people of South India.

The BJP is going to the 2024 elections as a clear favourite. How are you ensuring that there is no complacency within your ranks?

Our party was born out of years of struggle and with only one ideology i.e. of Nation First. It grew from a party which only had two members in the Lok Sabha to a party that won full majority twice and is now going to come back for a third term with an even bigger mandate.

We did not build the party thinking that we have won one election and now, we can relax till the next election. We treated every win as our duty to live up to the trust people bestowed on us. Our karyakartas are always on a mission-mode to serve the person at the last mile. Our vision is crystal clear i.e. 24x7 for 2047.

Therefore, there is hardly any scope of complacency within the BJP. We are here to fulfil the vision of Viksit Bharat by 2047.

Let me explain to you in cricket terminology. If in a test match, a team has a massive lead over the other in the first innings, still the team with advantage plays the match with full spirit to create new records. Similarly, we know that the opposition has conceded defeat and has given a kind of walkover to us but still our karyakartas are energised and our party is fighting this election with full sportsman-like spirit.

For us, elections are a festival of democracy. Every citizen gets the opportunity to be part of this celebration and hence, as a party, we try to reach out to each and every one. It is also a time for people to evaluate our performance and our karyakartas make sure that people have all the information and awareness on the kind of work that has taken place in the last decade.

In this election, the energy and liveliness in BJP booths is palpable. I tell our party karyakartas that on the day of election take everyone along while going out to vote and create a festive and jubilant atmosphere. The world should see how joyfully and collectively India celebrates its democracy.

There’s been a lot of controversy over the Prajwal Revanna tapes in Karnataka. While the law will take its own course, and the elections are over there, as the PM, is there something you wish to say on this controversy, especially since the JD(S) is your ally and you addressed an election meeting in Hassan.

I firmly believe that every Indian citizen is equal in the eyes of the law. Be it Sandeshkhali or Karnataka, whoever committed such heinous acts, whether they belong to any party, must face severe consequences, must face the strictest punishment. And it’s the duty of the state government to ensure law and order, whichever part of India it is.

Do you think our election campaigns have failed to keep pace with the times? We are still talking about religion and caste, and freebies and reservation, when there are far more important issues that need to be discussed.

Please do a detailed analysis of the speeches by people from all parties and you will see who is speaking progressive points and who is only focussing on regressive issues. Today in the world of Artificial Intelligence, you can do this comparative analysis very quickly.

If the Congress party’s agenda is to take away the reservation of SCs, STs and OBCs, and give it to their vote banks unconstitutionally, on the basis of religion, then it will have to be questioned. In such a situation, being silent would be incorrect.

It is the Congress party that is bringing religion and divisive issues, agendas into the picture.

The people of these communities are raising questions about their dangerous agenda and as a party that represents the people’s aspirations, we will also reflect their concerns.

These are important questions that need to be answered by the Congress.

As for keeping pace with the times, if you observe our party’s manifesto or the speeches of our leaders, it is clear that we are the only party speaking about creating a developed India, about a net-zero future, about becoming the third largest economy, etc.

In some states the BJP is also fighting against parties that have been supporting your legislative agenda in Parliament. How different is it from fighting an ideologically hostile Opposition?

Ours is a strong and vibrant democracy with many different ideas, ideologies and schools of thought. They are all welcome.

There can be differences in ideology but I do not think there should be hostility. And, there must always be a consensus on some basic issues affecting the unity and integrity of our nation.

Non-Congress parties, especially those like the BJP, have been in the Opposition benches for a long time, at both Centre and state levels. So, these parties have a certain level of maturity, pragmatism and constructive attitude.

For most such parties, fighting elections against each other but agreeing on certain issues in terms of legislation and governance has been a common experience. This has been the norm for most of our democratic history, not an aberration.

The aberration is the behaviour of the Congress party in recent years. It is only when the Congress party went out of power and into the Opposition that they resorted to creating a bitter, hostile and unrelenting atmosphere. Even some Congress leaders themselves feel this is not correct, but do not express it out of fear for their political future within the party.

I think it is mainly because the top leadership of the Congress has not yet come to terms with being out of power. They have not been able to accept the fact that the country has moved on from them. But the more time they spend in Opposition, hopefully, they will also learn.

The BJP has been very open and welcoming of leaders from other parties, including those whose ideologies were once very opposed to the party’s. Do you think this is, in some way, weakening your own ideological core?

See, in 2019, the BJP got nearly 23 crore (230 million) votes. This is far more than we ever got in history. Many of these people would perhaps have voted for us for the first time in 2014 or 2019.

Earlier, there used to be a lot of misconceptions about us and our ideology. But in the last few years, more and more people are seeing our work and finding our ideology and mission appealing.

So, there is a general movement towards the BJP in larger society itself. The political sphere, too, is not immune to this. So, we welcome anyone who wants to come with open arms, as long as they believe in our vision and mission.

Given that the Communists have become just a shell of their past self, we are perhaps the only ideological and cadre-driven party in India. Therefore, today young people are attracted towards our party and BJP is their first choice. They also know that in dynasty based parties, their talent gets strangled and to get ahead in the party they have to indulge in sycophancy while in BJP even a normal Panna Pramukh can become Prime Minister of the country. Being cadre-driven means that no one group or family decides the party’s future. So, anyone who is in our party will have to win the trust of the cadre by working with the principle of ‘Nation First’.

What next for Narendra Modi?

I am nothing but a sevak of Ma Bharati. I never think about what is next for me. I am thinking what all I can do to fulfil the dreams and aspirations of my family of 140 crore Indians. The last 10 years have only been a trailer. There is a lot that I want to do.

Before entering the election fray, I had asked all the government departments to prepare a 100-day plan. Our Sankalp Patra provides a roadmap of the next five years. We are also laying out the vision for Viksit Bharat by 2047, the foundation for which has already been built. So, we have our task cut out.

Having filled the gaping holes left by 60 years of Congress rule in our first term and putting India on a fast track of growth in our second term, our third term will be an era of accelerated development at a scale never seen before.

I am committed to strengthening and structuring the GYANM model that empowers our Gareeb, Yuva, Annadata, Nari Shakti and Middle Class in such a way that they become the architects of Viksit Bharat.

Most analysts predict a third term for your government, with the only question being the size of the majority. What would be the big theme of this third term? Alternatively, what do you see as the biggest task remaining to be done after two terms in office?

When we came to government in 2014, we had to make sure that the mistakes of the past were rectified and a strong foundation was built.

Whether it is the poor or farmers or the banking sector or the economy, each of these were in deep trouble.

On the one hand, we took basics like toilets, bank accounts, gas connections, electricity, etc to the poor and on the other hand, we rescued our banking sector and economy with multiple reforms.

Our country raised crores of people out of poverty and also became the fastest growing economy.

Due to our reforms, many sectors have attained a life of their own – from manufacturing to start-ups to space.

Due to our good work, the people gave us a second term, with an even bigger mandate in 2019.

In the second term, the people saw India becoming the fifth largest economy in the world.

Whether it was in terms of action against Article 370 in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, or successful management of Covid-19, or sending vaccines and medicines to various countries, or the foreign policy successes in the post-pandemic world order, many such developments have given the people of India a new-found confidence in themselves and the country’s future.

Earlier, the people of our country were shackled due to poverty, corruption and misrule. Due to their daily battles with these problems, they could not aspire towards a larger vision for their future or the country’s.

But our work of the last few years has given wings to the people’s aspirations and organically given rise to the vision of building a developed India by 2047.

The big theme of our third term is about imparting momentum across sectors towards the realisation of this vision.

From plans for the next five years to the plan for the first 100 days of the government, we are ready with many targets and are raring to go.

A lot needs to be done and will be done. This is going to be one of the most exciting periods in the history of independent India.

Your third term is going to see the delimitation exercise that will serve as a precursor to the redrawing of seats in the Lok Sabha, and also the implementation of the women’s reservation. Both are going to be challenging, with there being a lot of insecurity about what the changes could mean. How do you plan to tackle these?

Delimitation is not happening for the first time in our nation. These are established processes which have happened on various occasions. I do not think it needs to be seen with the lens of politics. I was the chief minister of Gujarat when the last delimitation exercise happened. Not once did we raise any issue. In fact, whatever was required from us as a state government, we cooperated to the fullest.

In any case, taking people into confidence, winning their trust and building consensus is something that is part of our track record.

GST was brought in through consensus, by taking everyone’s views into account. Going above partisan considerations, we addressed everyone’s concerns. Today, the GST Council is a wonderful example of how different stakeholders work together.

Since you mentioned women’s reservation, remember that this was a topic that had seen a lack of consensus for decades. But we showed the ability to take everyone into confidence, bring about a consensus and pass this historic bill.

I can give you many such examples. I am sure our clean intent and clear track record will help us in many such issues even in the future.
 

(This interview appeared first on Hindustan Times)

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Published: 12 May 2024, 07:58 AM IST
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