In an interview to Loksatta Editor Girish Kuber Monday, Narendra Modi says he would take forward AB Vajpayee’s principles on foreign policy and that his top priority will be to restore people’s confidence and kickstart the economy. Excerpts:
Priorities if BJP comes to power:
If we really get an opportunity to form the government, our priority will be to restore the confidence of the people. The loss of people’s confidence in the government is to my knowledge the biggest setback. This will be my first priority. Second, I will take the initiative to address the policy paralysis. The major setback to economic reforms and slowdown in investments will have to be corrected through concrete policy decisions. The third aspect relates to consolidating the infrastructure and industrial sector.
During Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government, the impetus was on infrastructure and industries which gave a new lease of life to other related sectors. I will also concentrate on administrative, judicial and police reforms. Criminalisation of politics is another critical issue… Lastly, I believe all states should be taken into confidence and made to participate in all reforms undertaken by the Centre. In my view what is more important is not the mistakes made by the Manmohan Singh government, but the rampant corruption in the UPA government. There is a need to weed out the culture of corrupt practices ingrained in the system.
On foreign policy:
I believe in Hindutva which is based on the age-old concept of “Vasudeva Kutumba”. I believe mutual respect for one another and cooperation should be the basis for relationships with foreign nations. And I am confident my Hindutva face will be an asset when dealing with foreign affairs with other nations.
I will follow the (foreign) policies of the Vajpayee-led NDA government… And that also applies to relationship with the United States. I don’t think a decision taken by any individual or one event should impact the overall policy.
On criticism that he is autocratic:
For the last 10 years, there has been a Congress government at the Centre. There is a deliberate campaign to malign my image. I have always believed in evolving a consensus before taking any major decision. I feel I should be judged by the decision and results. If I am judged for my work, many myths about me as an autocrat or otherwise would become clearer. I feel false propaganda will not last and truth will ultimately prevail.
On Congress-BJP relations:
The perceived strain in Congress and BJP equations in Parliament was due to the election atmosphere. I don’t think there was a breakdown between the ruling and opposition parties since many important policy decisions including food security legislation saw the two working together. The BJP has always extended cooperation to the government on issues related to public welfare.
On his alleged proximity to the Adani group:
There is no truth in the allegations about my close association with the Adani group. I don’t think it is necessary to even answer such allegations. For the past one year, I have been extensively touring the country to raise people’s issues, which to me are more important. My senior colleagues have given an explanation and I feel that should be enough.