With the Congress escalating its attack on the Rafale deal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday hit back at the main Opposition party over corruption under its rule, and said that his government has saved funds of around Rs 4.9 lakh crore, which was siphoned in the past.
Speaking at the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Varanasi, the biennial flagship event for NRIs, Modi said the BJP-led government “has changed the way the country was being governed in the last four-and-a-half years”.
Referring to a statement once made by the late Rajiv Gandhi, without naming him, Modi said: “He had said that when the central government sends funds, only 15 per cent of the money sent from the Centre actually reached the beneficiaries… The party that ruled for so long and the system that it built… the then prime minister had admitted the reality. They diagnosed the ailment but did not treat the disease. But unfortunately, even in the 10-15 years of rule thereafter, they did not try to plug the pilferage of 85 per cent of resources while the middle class kept paying taxes honestly.”
Addressing a cheering crowd of NRIs and supporters from his home constituency, Modi said the NDA government stopped “loot and leakage” of resources from the system since coming to power in 2014.
“We have used technology and plugged the 85 per cent leakage completely. In the last four-and-a-half years, we have transferred Rs 5.78 lakh crore or about $80 billion to people’s bank accounts directly under various schemes,” he said.
“Had the country been run by the old system, Rs 4.91 lakh crore of Rs 5.78 lakh crore would have leaked out of the system. Had we not changed the system, the resources would have been looted in the same manner as in the past,” Modi said.
“Earlier, there was no intention or political will to stop the leakage. Now, we have a policy to transfer the amount directly into the bank accounts of the beneficiaries,” he said.
Pointing to fake beneficiaries availing benefits of government schemes, the Prime Minister said the BJP-led government “identified 7 crore people who were not born but were taking benefits from the government… They were all living only on paper… This is a glimpse of the change that we have brought in the last four-and-a-half years”.
“Earlier, people used to say that India cannot change. But we have changed the mindset. We have shown that change,” the Prime Minister said.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who also spoke on the occasion, said the importance of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas had deteriorated between 2004 and 2014, when the previous Congress-led UPA was in power. “It had become a mere ritual, but Modi gave it a new lease of life,” she said.