Modi Mocks Oppn's 'Bankruptcy' in Vision for India, Says First Time That Prime Minister is Also Poll Issue
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.
File photo of PM Narendra Modi.
The battle for power is now in the final stage as the country gears up to vote in the seventh and final phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. Setting the agenda for the battle of 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to News18's Amitabh Sinha and Brijesh Kumar. In the exclusive conversation, Modi spoke about the violence in West Bengal, attempts to polarise the elections, and the BJP's fortunes.
The election campaign is in the final stage, but there is no end to personal attacks. (Congress leader) Mani Shankar Aiyar stands by his ‘neech’ comment; from Mayawati to Mamata Banerjee and Chandrababu Naidu to Rabri Devi, everyone has taken pot shots at you. What do you feel is the reason for the use of such language?
I think the first thing one should ask is what is this bankruptcy that the opposition is unable to present its vision to the country. What do they want to do for farmers, women and the youth? What is their plan for India’s villages? Who will be their prime minister? They do not have answers to these questions and are hence abusing me for publicity. This is the first election where Modi is also a poll issue. Maybe this has never happened before in this country that those who want to win talk of Modi and those who want to defeat us also have Modi on their mind.
The Congress questioned your caste even when you fought the election in 2002 and the question remains the same today, so much so that leaders like Mayawati are accusing you of being a fake politician from the backward caste. Why does your caste overshadow the work you do?
I was in Gujarat for so long but no one knew about my caste. I feel I belong to the caste of the poor, and the plight of the poor, even after so many years of Independence, pains me immensely. It’s not that we could not have done anything for them; in 10 years of the opposition's rule, they built 25 lakh houses, while in five years, we constructed 1.5 crore houses. If this work had been done earlier, Modi would not have to build toilets, construct houses or ensure road connectivity in villages. Work that should have been completed within 25 years of attaining Independence was not undertaken.
Several states have opposition parties at the helm but why is West Bengal always simmering? Your party’s workers are being killed, there is arson during the BJP chief’s roadshow. Mamata Banerjee blames your party for violence, while the Election Commission seems to be helpless. Why is it so?
People who believe in democracy and are neutral, their silence is most deafening because they are ready to forgive everything in their hatred for Modi. This is setting a dangerous trend for the country. You see, when one talks of terrorism, the example of Jammu and Kashmir is the first one thinks about. But even in J&K during panchayat elections, there was not a single incident of violence at even one poll booth. But during polls in Bengal, several people were killed, the houses of those who won were burnt down and they had to flee to states such as Jharkhand — all because they won.
At times like these, people who talk of democracy are silent. The BJP kept bringing up the issue, so did the Congress and the Left, but people who consider themselves neutral are quiet, thus emboldening these forces. Before elections, the chopper of a BJP chief minister was not allowed to land. At the last moment, rallies were cancelled — just a few days ago, they cancelled the Prime Minister’s rally, then they did the same with (BJP chief) Amit Shah.
They are completely undemocratic and the reason behind it is the fact that they are scared of neither the BJP nor the Congress or the Left. The TMC, especially Mamata Banerjee, is only scared of people’s power because if the people realise the state’s reality, it will spell doom for the TMC. Thus, the state government, TMC and TMC’s goons are against the people.
You have maintained that because you are always in the midst of people, you understand their nerve. Six phases of elections are over and we are now in the last stage. Do you think the BJP can come to power on its own or will you require the NDA? Will you have to look for new partners after the results are announced?
The BJP will come back to power with a bigger vote share and better margin. In a way, it will be a glorious entry for us; not because of our strategy but because the people are fighting the elections this time. You would be surprised to know that all the slogans used during the elections have come from the public. Our PR agency or party did not come up with any slogans. ‘Aayega Toh Modi Hi’ was a slogan I heard from the people. The credibility of NDA allies will also rise along with their number of seats. There will be a good environment for regional aspirations too.
Is this the most polarised election in the history of independent India as your critics are claiming, and if not, why is such an environment being created?
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. I don’t believe there is polarisation, but if there is a divide, is it horizontal or vertical? If it does exist, 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? If he can see the country’s future in his children’s future, we should be proud.
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