Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an exclusive interview with news agency ANI, touched upon important issues concerning the nation like mob lynchings, Goods and Services Tax (GST), women empowerment, and jobs. Besides, the prime minister also spoke about BJP’s plans to tackle the united Opposition in 2019 as well as the path ahead for India-Pakistan relations in the light of the imminent change of government in Islamabad. But, perhaps the most anticipated remarks from the PM came on Assam’s National Register of Citizens, a topic he broached for the first time since the final draft was released on July 30.
PM Modi on Assam NRC
Allaying fears that the NRC would exclude Indian citizens, PM Modi mounted a strong rebuttal to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s remarks that the exclusion of 40 lakh people in Assam would lead to a “civil war” and “bloodbath”. “Only those who have lost faith in themselves, fear the loss of popular support and lack faith in our Institutions can use words like ‘civil war’, ‘bloodbath’ and ‘Desh Ke Tukde Tukde.’ Evidently, they are disconnected from the pulse of the nation,” Modi said.
The PM also did not spare the Congress and accused the party of playing politics over NRC. Modi said after former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi signed the Assam Accord, the Congress did nothing to formulate the NRC and kept misleading people. “The roots of the NRC go back three decades when Rajiv Gandhi had to bow to public pressure and sign the Assam Accord. Since then Assam voted Congress several times but the party did nothing about it and kept misleading the people,” Modi said.
He assured that no citizen of India would have to leave the country and said all possible opportunities would be given to those excluded to get their concerns addressed. “The NRC was a promise of ours, which we are fulfilling under the guidance of the Supreme Court. It is not about politics but about people. If someone is making it about rajaneeti, it is extremely unfortunate,” the PM said.
PM Modi on mob lynchings
PM Modi termed ‘perverse’ what he claimed was the Opposition attempt to milk incidents of mob lynching for political gains. Modi said the Opposition should not reduce cases of rapes and lynchings to mere statistics and indulge in politics over these crimes and should instead unitedly oppose them.
“It would be a great travesty to reduce these incidents to mere statistics and then indulge in politics over them. That shows a kind of perverse mindset that looks at violence and criminality as something to be milked, instead of unitedly opposing,” Prime Minister Modi told ANI. The PM also appealed to all parties to rise above politics to ensure unity in the society.
“My party and I have spoken in clear words, on multiple occasions against such actions (lynching) and such a mindset. Even a single incident is one too many and deeply unfortunate. Everyone should rise above politics to ensure peace and unity in our society,” he added. As per data compiled by the Ministry of Home Affairs, 45 persons were killed in 40 cases of mob lynching across nine states between 2014 and March 2018.
PM Modi on employment
The Congress has relentlessly attacked the ruling party over jobless growth. However, PM Modi said when the economy was growing at a faster pace, the jobs market was bound to expand. “When investment into and the pace of execution of infrastructure projects like making roads, laying down rail lines, setting up power generation including solar parks and transmission lines is at an all-time high, how come the jobs will not be created. Similarly, if there is significant growth in sales of commercial vehicles and passenger vehicles, does it not mean that jobs are being created,” Modi asked.
Substantiating his claims, Modi said mobile manufacturing units have grown from just two in 2014 to 120 today. Employment generation is also evident from 45 lakh new subscribers in the Employee Provident Fund and 5.68 lakh people joining the New Pension Scheme in the last nine months, Modi said. “All this has led to the creation of more than one crore jobs only in the last year. Thus, the campaign that jobs have not been created must come to a halt now. People are not going to buy it anymore,” he said.
PM Modi on facing a united Opposition in 2019
Stating that the Opposition had no option but to make it an ‘All versus One’ fight to even think of winning in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, PM Modi said the Mahagathbandhan was for personal survival and not for ideological support. “These parties had lots of time to prove their worth to the people. But they indulged in corruption, nepotism and mis-governance. Now they know that their electoral arithmetic based on caste, class, community and religion cannot withstand the chemistry of development,” he said.
In a veiled dig the Congress and TMC, Modi said today parties which resisted the Emergency were standing with those who imposed it and even parties espousing Left ideology were sharing the stage. “Those who went about trying to fight corruption are with the party that has institutionalized corruption at all levels. Parties with a visceral hatred towards the Left ideology and parties espousing Left ideology are sharing the stage. Parties whose very existence depended on fighting each other are now friends,” he said.
PM Modi on GST
On Goods and Services Tax (GST), which completed a year in June, Modi said the GST model brought by the ruling party was acceptable to the states because the NDA was sensitive to their concerns. On Congress chief Rahul Gandhi dubbing GST as ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’, Modi said people who had seen only dacoits around them would naturally think of dacoits only. “As for Gabbar Singh Tax, people who have seen only dacoits around them will naturally think of dacoits only,” the PM remarked.
Saying the business community had supported GST and adopted it whole-heartedly, Modi dished out statistics to prove how the economy had benefitted from the tax regime. “The number of enterprises registered from Independence until now was 66 lakh. In just one year after the introduction of GST, the number of new enterprises registered is 48 lakh. Around 350 crore invoices were processed and 11 crore returns were filed in 1 year,” the PM said.