Attempts to Tarnish My Image Created Over 20 Years: PM Modi on TIME's ‘Divider in Chief’ Cover Story
The prime minister claimed that had the Opposition managed to work for the welfare of all classes after Independence, he would not have had to build homes, construct toilets and ensure road connectivity in villages.

New Delhi: Breaking his silence on the controversial cover featuring him on TIME magazine, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said attempts of those trying to tarnish his image have backfired and their own images have been damaged instead.

In an exclusive chat with News18’s Amitabh Sinha and Brijesh Kumar, Modi said he pities those who have been trying to hurt his image for over 20 years but failed.

“I believe that people interested in image building are busy trying to tarnish my image for the past 20 years, which has actually backfired. I pity them,” Modi said, referring to the magazine cover in which he has been called India’s ‘divider-in-chief’.

In the cover story of the TIME’s international edition titled “Can the World’s Largest Democracy Endure Another Five Years of a Modi Government?” journalist Aatish Taseer stated that under Modi, “minorities of every stripe – from liberals and lower castes to Muslims and Christians – have come under assault” and blamed him for creating an atmosphere of “poisonous religious nationalism in India.”

Modi, speaking on the sidelines of a rally in Patna, said that it needs to be understood if the ‘divide’ is “vertical or horizontal”.

“If the divide exists, the poor today are polarised and identify with Modi. If the poor want to improve their lot but also better the country’s condition, what is the issue? Why are people unhappy if the poor break the shackles of caste, community and come forward for the future of their children?,” Modi said adding that we should be proud if the poor see the country’s future in children’s future.

Modi said that over the last 70 years, those who indulge in vote bank politics threatened the Muslims and the blame was passed on to various individuals and even organisations.

“These organisations and individuals have regularly been attacked and a fear has been instilled among the Muslims,” Modi said.