By S. Sivathasan –
In India Today dated May 3, 2014, there is a fine interview of Narendra Modi. Questions are sharp and answers are forthright. They provide an insight into the thinking of the intelligentsia as reflected in the questions and the mental frame of the prospective Prime Minister of India when answers are conveyed. To a question “What will be your 100 – day roadmap? He replied “People chose a government for 5 years, 100 days are only for the media. About the senior leaders of BJP he said “They are the foundation of the BJP….”A very strong and stable government will be formed”. Some excerpts and highlights are as below.
Modi has covered more than 300,000 km addressing over 400 rallies in about five months. It may be noted that this is a record in the electoral history of India.
When asked he explained his stamina thus: “I’m a mazdoor. I have worked hard since my childhood and worked as a labourer. I put my mind and heart into it. When the party gives me a responsibility, I must do it with complete dedication. God has given me the ability, which I utilise to its optimum.
I am thankful to God that there has been no disruption so far and no programme has been cancelled. Only one, due to the problem of aviation folks, my helicopter was not allowed to fly for over two hours. Outside of that, I have made it to rally venues on tim. Even the Western media has reported that public meetings of political parties are usually delayed by 3-4 hours, but Modi’s rallies are more or less on time”. Questions by IT and Answers by NM.
Don’t you get tired? Where do you get the energy from? Modi: The strength perhaps comes from people’s blessings… when I see the country and its people suffering. Also there is something called commitment, which keeps a person going.
IT: Yoga or Pranayam? Modi: That has been a part of my routine. I began going to RSS shakhas at an early age and I picked up this habit from there. It became a part of my lifestyle. These days, I hardly find time for yoga because of my packed schedule. I can say that out of 365 days, I manage to do yoga on at least 300 days.
IT: You took pride in saying there was no case filed against you. Now that an FIR has been registered, will you apologise to the Election Commission, or will you approach a court?
Modi: I don’t think that stage has come. Law will take its own course. Our legal team will look into it. I do take pride in saying that in spite of being in public life for so long, there is not a single case against me, not even for wrongly parking a scooter or driving on the wrong side. I don’t know how this happened, lawyers will find out.
AajTak: How far is 7, RCR for you after the seventh phase of polling? Modi: I have been following this election very closely. Not only as a politician campaigning, but also as a student of political science. After the elections were announced, senior Congress leaders started fleeing the battlefield. Second, for the first time in Indian politics there was a pre-poll alliance of 25 parties. It was a positive beginning.
On the other hand, Congress began it on a negative note as its leaders started withdrawing themselves. In the very beginning, they gave an indication that they lacked the courage to contest elections, leave alone winning. They were in no mood to fight. They know they will be unable to form the next government. Now their sole aim is to cross the figure of 100 and they are working hard at it. But it looks like they will not be able go beyond two digits.
The BJP entered the fray on the plank of good governance, development. People appreciate that somebody is talking about things that need to be done. They are reposing their faith in us. They want a government that can deliver and I believe they will vote for a good and stable government.
AajTak: Do you think you are the future prime minister of India? Modi: Narendra Modi was nominated the prime ministerial candidate by the BJP and the people of the country seem to approve it. But I won’t answer in the words you expect me to. I shall wait till May 16. I will speak to you once again.
AajTak: Do you have a roadmap for governance and development? Modis : Of course, the BJP has a clear-cut roadmap. We also have a sound track record. I would want a debate on this. India has seen the Congress model of governance, regional parties’ set-up of governance, dynasty politics, Leftist models and that of the BJP. Today, these models can be seen in action in one state or the other. In some state it is Communists, in others regional parties, Congress and BJP.
BJP-ruled states have focused on development. Digvijaya Singh got to govern Madhya Pradesh for a long time, but the state remained backward. When Shivraj Singh Chouhan came to power, the state moved towards development in a very little time. He brought the state out of the BIMARU category. Chhattisgarh became a new state and it was infested with Maoists, but now you also see the best financial discipline there.
If you see BJP’s model, we have maintained development as our top focus. During the Vajpayee government at the Centre, there was a feeling that India is moving towards becoming a great nation. The BJP’s policies are clear and intentions good. If you go through our manifesto, these points are very clear. There is clarity on how a government will function. I am thankful to the media that they analysed our manifesto in a very positive manner.
AajTak: What is your opinion on price rise? The new government might face a delayed monsoon. Has your party thought about this?
Modi: Surprising that you have such negativity? A lot of it is due to the last 10 years and it will take some time to get rid of it. Gujarat has seen drought for seven of the 10 years. But between 2001 and 2014 there has been no sign of drought in the state. God has always been kind to me. I pray to God that we get good monsoon this year.
AajTak: Rahul Gandhi says you only talk about removing corruption and don’t give a solution. What’s your take on corruption?
Modi: If we have to fight corruption, state has to be driven by policy. The country should function on policies. A government makes its own policy, there could be plus or minus points to it, but the final decision should be taken in the light of that policy. Unfortunately, there is a lot of scope for discrimination and the final say lies with the ministry concerned, which takes its own sweet time.
The policy is there in black and white. A person can read it on the internet and get to know whether he will get an entry so that he does not indulge in corrupt practices. Second, youth need employment. He may clear the written exam and then appear for the interview. The youth is not worried about the interview as much as he is worried that a third person getting recommended for the said job and grabbing it. He looks for a middleman to get through the interview giving bribes. Lakhs of rupees that had to be used for the benefit of the poor has been lost to corruption.
In Gujarat, I had to give jobs to 13,000 teachers. There were thousands of job-seekers too. I told them the form is available online. Fill it online. Academic career, experience, everything. We gave marks for each category. The decision was made by the computer software to choose the 13,000. There was no human intervention, no corruption. Technology is important in minimising corruption.
Another example, people say till the time Jayanti Tax wasn’t given, the file for the environment ministry clearance won’t move forward. After the minister left, we heard that over 200 signed files were recovered from her cupboard. I don’t know the truth.
But I have heard it from you, the media, not from any politician. Why didn’t the ministry clear the files? Because they wanted money. What we did in Gujarat was – all files are online, you can sit at home and track your files. If it’s stuck, you would know where and why. Anybody can rise up and object. There is transparency because of technology.
There are two check-posts between Gujarat and Maharashtra. The truck that goes to Maharashtra via Gujarat, goes through the same check-posts, gives the same tax, but the income is Gujarat is Rs.700 crore more than that of Maharashtra. Why? Because we use technology. Everything is monitored, hence less corruption. If there is political will, this can be done.
AajTak: On black money, the Supreme Court has ordered the government to set up an inquiry commission and report in 3 weeks. The new government will be in place. If you come to power, what will you do?
Modi: Lal Krishna Advani campaigned against black money, he travelled far and wide to demand the black money be brought back. It must be hard for him at this age. It is part of our manifesto and we are committed to it. Can people who don’t bother about the Supreme Court point fingers at us?
Modi: May I suggest a revolutionary thing for you? You can do it because yours is a revolutionary channel. We have a detailed PowerPoint presentation on this. I request you to show it on AajTak. You will get all your answers.
The Supreme Court has said that Gujarat’s land acquisition model should be adopted by other states as well. These are baseless allegations. Only a week ago, the Gujarat High Court gave a 100 per cent judgment on the Tata Nano car project, in favour of the government policy. But it was not news for you. Nobody reported it.
AajTak: There has been a rise in personal attacks on you since Priyanka Gandhi has started campaigning. Modi: You are downplaying it. For 12 years, Congress has continued making personal attacks on me. They have run out of words in their dictionary of abuses. They have reached a stage where they need new people to criticise me.
AajTak: You have been hard on Sonia and Rahul but you seem to be soft towards Priyanka. Modi: Only those who are in politics can be political rivals. It doesn’t look nice that you start abusing family members of political rivals. They have been criticising my family. I won’t do the same.
AajTak: Do you think the BJP campaign went off track because of it all getting personal? Modi: I don’t think so. You can pull out my speeches – good governance, development, youth, farmers – these are my focus areas. If people appreciate this, they will vote for me. Else, Congress which has ruled for 60 years will get another five years. Today in a rally I said that the Congress turned the image of India into that of a ‘scam India’. I will work hard to change this image to ‘skilled India’ and we will not be behind China anymore.
AajTak: Do you have time to campaign in Varanasi? Do you think you have competition? Modi: I give as much time as needed.
AajTak: Do you think you instil fear in the minds of minorities? Modi: The beauty of democracy is that even a single soul from its distant corner can have his say, make himself heard. In democracy, every one counts.
AajTak: Pakistan Army chief said that Kashmir is its jugular vein and if you come to power, it will destabilise the region. What will be your policy on Dawood?
Modi: BJP’s policy has been very clear since the Vajpayee government. A country as vast as India shouldn’t live in constant fear, neither should any country fear India. We should be able to see eye to eye and have cordial relations.
AajTak: How about your relations with the US? Nancy Powell met you. You did not ask for a visa. Will you go to the US only on invitation?
Modi: A large chunk of American investment in India happens to be in Gujarat. The maximum foreign delegates attending the Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit are American businessmen. Many Indians, including Gujaratis, live in the US and play a crucial role in the American economy. Our relations are not sour.
AajTak: You keep talking about a policy paralysis that affected FDI inflow for the last 10 years. What will you do? Modi: My Gujarat experience says that I don’t need to do much but just emphasise on skill development.
AajTak: What will be your 100-day roadmap? Modi: People choose government for five years, 100 days are only for the media.
AajTak: Atal, Advani, M.M. Joshi are veteran leaders of the BJP…Modi: They are the foundation of the BJP… A very strong and stable government will be formed.
Aaj Tak: Do you have a dream team in mind? Modi: BJP is a very able party. We have the insight, able leaders and this is the team which dreams and delivers.
Modi: You can see all is well. Thank you.
The writer has abridged the interview slightly. Emphases are added. He acknowledges his debt to INDIA TODAY for this instructive piece of much value to readers.