Attacking the previous UPA government on his three-nation trip, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised Thursday to clean up the “mess left behind” and change India’s image from one of “scams” to that of a “skilled” nation.
Addressing a gathering of Indians at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto, in the presence of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen who wore a sari, Modi said: “The country is facing many challenges. And there is only one medicine… And it is not Modi, it is vikas (development)… vikas is the solution to all problems, only development can take the country forward.”
“Jinko gandagi karni thi, woh kar ke chale gaye. Lekin hum safai karenge (Those who wanted to create a mess have done it and left. But we will clean up),” he said without naming the UPA. The remarks had the audience applauding, chanting “Modi, Modi”.
“The country is huge. There is a lot of mess. It has been there for long. It will take time but it (cleaning) will be done as the attitude of people has changed… Earlier, the country was known as scam-India. We want it known as skilled-India,” he said.
At home, the remarks drew an angry response from the Congress. Party leader Anand Sharma said: “It is clear that he carries a hangover of the 2014 election campaign. He is talking on foreign soil to malign his predecessors and the present opposition. No prime minister of India in its history has ever done so.”
On Twitter, Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said “when a Head of State visits abroad he represents the whole Nation. Modi’s speech is divisive, defamatory, malicious and not based on facts”.
In Paris too, his first stop on the trip, Modi had mounted a scathing attack on the UPA, saying it had allocated coal blocks like one gives away a pen or a handkerchief, resulting in losses running into lakhs of crores of rupees.
In Toronto, he told the gathering that “jan mann” (people’s attitude) had changed in the 10 months since his government took charge. There was now an atmosphere of trust which, he said, was making things happen like voluntary participation in the Swachh Bharat campaign, well-off people giving up LPG subsidy and opening of bank accounts for the poor.
He asked the diaspora to contribute to India’s development by sharing expertise and experience. The people of India, he said, have enough potential but only need an opportunity. He recalled a Hindi song ‘kitna badal gaya insaan’ to make the point that public attitude had changed in India.
He said the march of development was taking place in a “transparent and corruption-free” environment. He told the gathering that earlier only 2-km length of road was built in a day but now it was 11 km a day.
He said his government was prioritizing skill development because by 2030, the developed world would require skilled people in large numbers and India would be the only place to source them.— With PTI