In his second interview with a national news channel in 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared on Times Now on Sunday, 21 January.
In his tete-e-tete with Times Now's Navika Kumar and Rahul Shivshankar, PM Modi talked about the Triple Talaq Bill, Uniform Civil Code, the National Anthem being played in cinema halls, opposition’s “Gabbar Singh Tax” jibe, job creation and much more.
The telecast of the interview comes two days after the prime minister appeared on Zee News, where he talked about issues such as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and simultaneous Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections.
On Triple Talaq Bill
PM Narendra Modi said that the Congress should have learnt from the mistakes it made during Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure as prime minister and given its support to the Triple Talaq Bill.
He added that instead of indulging in vote-bank politics, the opposition party must get out of this "regressive mindset", reported PTI.
"This isn’t a religious issue, it is about providing basic rights to Muslim women. Many Islamic nations have also changed their (triple talaq) laws. But the Congress politicised this issue, and its disheartening that the bill wasn’t passed in the Rajya Sabha."On the Judicial Crisis
Without refusing to comment, PM Narendra Modi brushed off a question on the allegations against the conduct of CJI Deepak Misra by saying, “I believe the government and I should not speak on this issue. Our judiciary is full of excellent individuals and we should leave it to them.”
On Economy & Job Creation
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the Indian economy has flourished since the BJP came to power in 2014.
"Fiscal Deficit was earlier 4.5 percent or even more, and we have brought it down to 3.5 percent. Current account deficit, in comparison to the GDP was 4 percent. Today, we have brought it down to between 1-2 percent. Secondly, we have taken FDI from $30 billion to now more than $62 billion. This is a big jump in itself. This happens when there is trust in economic policies."
He further claimed that the opposition is “spreading lies about (lack of) employment” and pointed to private surveys that show otherwise.
He said that in the past year, the fact that about 70 lakh new retirement fund or EPF accounts have been opened for youth that fall between the age-gap of 18 and 25, proves that there is new employment in the economy, reported PTI.
Also, providing loans to 10 crore non-corporates and small businesses under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) has created entrepreneurs and jobs, he said.
“If every sector like Railways, Power, Textiles, infrastructure are expanding everyday, then how is it possible that more people will not get employment,” PM Modi said to Times Now.
On the issue of implementing GST, PM Modi said that the tax reform was passed after thorough debate and with consensus among all states and parties. He came down on opposition parties for their ‘double standard’, saying they support the reform within the parliament but “once the meeting is over, they come out and show anger.”
He did say, however that he was open to bringing about changes in the system that would fix the loopholes and help it become more efficient, reported PTI. He also said that no one had actually opposed GST and everyone theoretically accepted the concept of one-nation-one-tax.
"GST is a new system, it is improving with time, the citizens are adjusting to this change, it will take time."On Demonetisation
Calling demonetisation a big “success story”, he said that the move had brought about “world-wide respect” for India and for the central bank.
Attacking critics of demonetisation, Modi said people attempted to "ignite a fire, incite riots and knocked at doors of the Supreme Court. They tried everything possible just to save those who were hoarding black money, to save the corrupt, to save the dishonest.”
The overnight decision to ban 86 percent of the currency in circulation was "a very big success story", he said, according to PTI.
On His ‘Congress-Mukt Bharat’ Agenda
PM Modi said his slogan of 'Congress-free India' was not about eliminating the main opposition party politically but about ridding the country of the "Congress culture" which he termed as casteist, dynastic, corrupt and involving total control over power among other ills, reported PTI.
"My jibe of ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ was never aimed at one particular party or political thinking, but on the kind of culture the Congress had created in post-independence India. This Congress culture turned the image of all politicians as corrupt and evil. My aim is to change that image and remove this culture. I think, in a way, even Congress needs to get ‘Congress-mukt’ for the sake of democracy. "On His Davos Trip
Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to address the plenary at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He said that he attributed this opportunity to India’s progress in the past couple of years, where she has not only become a land of great opportunity, but also an ideal investment destination, according to PTI.
"India has shown its economic strength to the world and so it is but obvious that the world wants to know India, it wants to know India directly (from the top leader) (and) understand it," Modi told Times Now.
"My aim is to present the brilliance of 1.25 billion Indians to the world. And we have come out from there and today India’s economic policy is being seen as a shining star with optimism and expectation. I think that this is a big thing in itself"On NDA’s Tenure Till Now
When asked about how he would rate 3.5 years of the NDA rule, PM Narendra Modi said that “if elections are a way of measuring our success, than the government has performed exceptionally well.”
"During UPA’s tenure, the newspapers were filled with stories about scams. If we take elections as a report card, than we have performed excellently. The world is saying India is a bright spot. I would definitely want that the country to get a comparative study of 10 years of UPA, with our three and a half or four years in office."On Union Budget 2018
When asked if the government will present a populist budget keeping the 2019 elections in mind, PM Modi said, "The common man expects honesty, he expects to get what he deserves. He doesn't demand sops & freebies. It is our myth. I trust the common man of the country."
He also pledged that his government will stay on the course of the reforms agenda that has pulled out India from being among the 'fragile five' economies of the world to being a 'bright spot', reported PTI.
"Budget is the property of Parliament. It falls under the ambit of our Finance minister, so I don’t want to interfere in that."On Pakistan
When asked about how his relations with world leaders have helped in isolating Pakistan globally, PM Modi said that his foreign policy isn't focused just on Pakistan. India’s foreign policy, he said in the interview, was “issue-based” and was in context of its global relations.
He added that his interactions with world leaders are related to the eradication of terrorism.
“You have to unite those who believe in humanitarian values, only then can you isolate terrorists and defeat terrorism,” he was quoted as saying by PTI.
"I support every leader who wants to fight terrorism. I support and respect US President Donald Trump for his tough stand on terrorism."
The Prime Minister said that over the past 40 years, India and Pakistan have fought enough and put a question to the common citizens of Pakistan:
"What would a common man in Pakistan want, to fight poverty or fight India?"
(With inputs from PTI)
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