In an exclusive interview to news agency ANI on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed topics such as concerns around rising unemployment, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the Goods and Services Tax (GST), women empowerment, the end of his party’s alliance with the PDP, future of the Mahagathbandhan and India-Pakistan relations – to name a few.
Significantly, condemning mob lynchings, he said everyone should rise above politics to ensure peace and unity in society.
In an exclusive interview to news agency ANI, PM Modi said, “It would be a great travesty to reduce these incidents to mere statistics and then indulge in politics over them. That shows a kind of perverse mindset that looks at violence and criminality as something to be milked, instead of unitedly opposing. Even a single incident is one too many and deeply unfortunate.”
Terming the incidents of lynching as criminal, he further said:
On Assam NRC
Reacting to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s “civil war” statement on Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC), Modi said, “Only those who have lost faith in themselves, fear loss of popular support and lack faith in our Institutions can use words like ‘civil war’, ‘blood bath’ and ‘desh ke tukde tukde’. Evidently, they are disconnected from the pulse of the nation. As far as Mamata ji’s stand is concerned, she should remember what she said on the floor of the Parliament in 2005. Was that Mamata ji correct or is this Mamata ji correct?”
He also assured that no citizen of India will have to leave the country. The PM told ANI, “As per the due process, all possible opportunities will be given to get their concerns addressed.”
He further accused the Congress of politicising the NRC, the roots of which he said go back three decades, when Rajiv Gandhi had to bow to public pressure and sign the Assam Accord.
Countering the Opposition’s claim of lack of jobs and employment, PM Modi said that more than one crore jobs have been created in the last one year. “Thus, the campaign that jobs have not been created must come to a halt now. People are not going to buy it anymore.”
He said, “When economy is growing at a faster pace, in fact fastest among the major economies, how will the jobs market not expand? When investment into and the pace of execution of infrastructure projects like making roads, laying down rail lines, setting up power generation including solar parks and transmission lines is at all-time high, how come the jobs will not be created?”
He further said that employment generation is evident from 45 lakh new subscribers in the Employee Provident Fund and 5.68 lakh people joining the New Pension Scheme in the last nine months.
Talking about Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s “Gabbar Singh Tax” analogy, PM Modi said:
But why did the BJP oppose GST during the UPA regime? According to Modi, there were glaring loopholes in the GST model proposed by then Finance Minister, P Chidambaram, or as Modi termed him during the interview – the ‘Know it All’ Finance Minisiter.
"He refused to listen to the concerns of the various state governments and adopted a ‘my way or the highway’ approach. Not only Gujarat, but most states did not trust the UPA Government to be fair with them. They had not paid the GST compensation to the states which were promised. They were also unwilling to provide GST compensation to the states if they suffered losses in the first 5 years. It is only when the NDA government discharged the liability of the past GST compensation and agreed to pay compensation in the event of loss for the first five years the GST was possible. " - PM Modi
When asked what these benefits were, he cited that the number of enterprises registered from Independence until now was 66 lakh. In just one year after the introduction of GST, the number of new enterprises registered is 48 lakh, he claimed. Around 350 crore invoices were processed and 11 crore returns were filed in one year. “Doesn't this show wide-spread public acceptance?” he asked.
On Opposition’s ‘Mahagathbandhan’
When asked about the Opposition parties forming a coalition before the 2019 elections, Modi said, “Let us understand the true character of the Mahagathbandhan. The Mahagathbandhan is for personal survival, not for ideological support. The Mahagathbandhan is for personal ambitions, not for people’s aspirations. The Mahagathbandhan is purely about power politics, not about people’s mandate. The Mahagathbandhan is about dynasties, not about development. The Mahagathbandhan is not about any union of minds or ideas, but about rank opportunism. The only question is whether they will break up before the election or after!”
He is of the opinion that the Opposition has no faith in their ability to fight the BJP alone. This, he says, is after they squandered the chance of winning the people’s trust.
On Imran Khan’s Victory in Pak
Congratulating Pakistan’s prime minister-designate, Modi said, “I have always said that we wish to have good neighbourly relations. We have also taken various initiatives in this regard. I recently congratulated Mr Imran Khan on his victory in the elections.” This was his response when asked if India is ready to sit down and hold peace-building talks with Pakistan.
He added: “We hope that Pakistan would work for a safe, secure, stable and prosperous region, free from terror and violence.”
On the End of BJP-PDP Alliance
Talking about the unresolved political impasse in Jammu and Kashmir, the prime minister said, “The people’s mandate during the state Assembly elections was towards formation of government jointly by the BJP and the PDP. Also, in that situation, there was no other alternative. That is why, to fulfil the people’s expectations, we formed the coalition government. However, after the sad demise of Mufti Sahab, there were hurdles in fulfilling those expectations.”
On Rahul Gandhi’s Hug
On this issue, PM Modi simply said: “It is for you to judge whether it was a childish act or not. And, if you are unable to decide that, watch the wink and you will get the answer.”
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