The Narendra Modi-led BJP government at the centre turned one year old on May 26. Faced with tasks of ruling the country and ensuring delivery of his pre-poll promises, Modi government has drawn mixed reactions from different quarters vis-a-vis events and issues in the past year.
From communal tensions and controversial statements made by his ministers, to the question of whether ‘ache din’ have really come knocking at the door of India’s poor and impoverished, Modi, in an exclusive interview on Friday, May 29, to Tribune , not only explained taking up from where the previous UPA government had left, but also the significance of his thrust on maintaining relationship with India’s neighbours.
Here’s is everything that the Prime Minister had to say on different issues and concerns of the country:
Impression of running the government
From the potential I have seen in the country, I believe there is no logic in it staying poor and underdeveloped. Countries that attained freedom much later have developed more than us; we too could have been there. There is nothing lacking in the country. I won’t go into where we went wrong or who did wrong.
When I spoke of Swachh Bharat on August 15 last year, I knew I was taking a risk, but I was amazed at the response that I received, it was beyond my imagination. Even the media that is usually critical of the government (which is natural and how it should be) has been furthering this particular campaign. Such has been the awareness created today that children point out to their parents if they litter.
Then I have seen the strength of the government machinery. When I declared we’ll open bank accounts before January 26, everyone was shocked: this is something that has never happened in 60 years, what is this man saying! But within around 100 days, before December 25, the targets were nearly met by all.
Main thrust in the first year
I was new for Delhi, Delhi was new for me, I had also not had much interaction with Delhi or its bureaucracy. So to shed light to see how things were, I started with small trials to see if the system’s frequency matched mine or not. And within three I months I found it matched perfectly. That gave me a huge confidence. For instance a concept like being punctual to work; we didn’t take out a circular, I just started arriving on time myself and soon I saw people all around had started doing that.
So I combine self-discipline in personal life with a humane approach to others.
What about ‘achhe din’? Have you delivered?
When visiting an ailing person, we say don’t worry, he’ll be well [“achha ho jayega”]. The word ‘achha’ [good] here is in the context of the ‘burra’ [bad] that the patient is going through. So my idea of ‘achhe din’ is riddance of that bad. And I believe we have achieved this.
So my definition of achhe din is in the context of everyday life and the ‘bad days’ that prevailed — corruption, scams, policy paralysis, black money, coal, spectrum…. The country was fed up with all of this.
There has to be zero tolerance on this matter at the top. Just my being honest is not enough. It should be visible in my speech, conduct, manner, policy, tradition, everything. I alone being ‘pure’ will not do. The way to achieve this is to lay down a policy on everything in black and white.
You promised to bring back the black money?
All this black money was generated because they (who were in power before) took no measures to check it. Despite directions from the Supreme Court, they did not constitute an SIT for three years. This means people holding black money were given that period to cover their trails. Had they acted the day the court gave the orders, the country would have gained billions of rupees. The first decision of our first Cabinet meeting was to create an SIT, which is given all information, and it passes it on to the Supreme Court in sealed covers. Yes, we don’t inform the media because there are international legal issues involved.
But we are going to spare no one.
Land acquisition bill
Our intention is to amend only those provisions in the 2013 Act that militate against the process of growth and are against the interest of farmers. The reforms in this Act will ensure greater irrigation potential, rural infrastructure, including electricity, schools and hospitals. The debate should be on merit.
On foreign policy
We are no more a balancing power but a global player. We approach the world with greater self-assurance. On Pakistan, all I can say is that bombs do not help. We can only progress in an atmosphere free of terror.
BJP-PDP coalition in Jammu and Kashmir and AFSPA
We have to respect the mandate of the people. It could either be an elected government or Governor’s rule. In the latter option, we would have had total control, but that is not what we wanted. It is a fact that the ideologies of the two parties are very different, but people wanted us to work together in both Jammu and Kashmir regions. The alliance in the state is one of the most important developments on the political scene. It has the potential to resolve one of our most difficult national problems through people’s participation and good governance.
It is now our duty to rise to the expectations of the people of the state and implement the Common Minimum Programme in letter and spirit and not digress from it.
Controversial statements against minority communities
It is a country of 1.25 billion, you can’t ascribe to the government everything that someone mutters.
One minister said something inappropriate, he apologised in the House; the party as well as I condemned his statement. Continuing to harp on these issues will not serve any purpose.
The Constitution of India will be a guiding force for us and the unity and integrity of our country is our top-most priority. All religions and communities have the same rights and it is the responsibility of my government to ensure that all Indians have equal rights and opportunities.
We earnestly hope you live up to your words, Mr PM.
Read full interview here