Narendra Modi alleges those opposing GST 'insulting Parliament,' says budget will not be a populist one

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an interview to Times Now spoke on a range of issues, including the recent Supreme Court judges' rebellion, GST, demonetisation and the Congress.

In his first comments on the judicial crisis, Modi on Sunday said the government and political parties must stay out of it while expressing confidence that the judiciary will sit together to find a solution to its problems. He also said the Indian judiciary has a bright history and is full of very capable people.

"Our country's judiciary has a very bright past, they are very capable people. They will sit together and find a solution to their problems. I have faith in our justice system, they will definitely figure out a solution," he said.

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

Six months into the rollout of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and after dozens of changes, Modi said he is open to more changes in the GST to plug loopholes and make it a more efficient tax. He also attacked those opposing the GST, saying they were "insulting" Parliament. He compared the new law with that for income tax, asking how many changes and improvements have been made in the income tax law since its inception in 1961. "The GST too is a new system. I have been saying this since the day one that people will take some time to adjust to the new system," he said. "We will have to improve wherever there are loopholes."

Modi also indicated that the upcoming Budget will not be a populist one and it's a myth that the common man expects "freebies and sops" from the government. He also pledged that his government will stay on the course of the reforms agenda that has pulled out India from being among the 'fragile five' economies of the world to being a 'bright spot'. "We are progressing at the right pace as we had planned, that's the biggest satisfaction for us," he said.

"If you want a debate on the economic conditions, do it on the basis of fixed parameters. Those who are judging the economy on the basis of fixed parameters, say India on a bright spot," the prime minister said.

On being the first Indian prime minister to be going to Davos, Modi said India has achieved a track record of doing well and has become an attractive hub hence we have the opportunity to present India to the world after 1991.

On the Opposition, Modi said his slogan of 'Congress-free India' was not about eliminating the main Opposition party politically but about ridding the country of the "Congress culture" which he termed as casteist, dynastic, corrupt and involving total control over power among other ills.

Maintaining that the Congress has been the "main pillar" of politics in the country that spread its culture to all political parties, he said that his call for "Congress mukt" or 'Congress-free India' was "symbolic" and he wants even the Congress to be free of the "Congress culture", according to the transcript provided by the channel.

When asked about the triple talaq bill that was not passed in the Rajya Sabha and whether he was personally affected by it, Modi said the 'nation is bigger than the party' for him. "When people are insulting GST, I can understand that it's their hunger for power and politics that makes them do that, but when a poor woman is at stake, it is difficult to see their point," said Modi.

On being asked why there was no consensus on Lok Sabha and state Assembly elections being held simultaneously, Modi said that before 1967, the general elections and the state elections were held together and he is not the first one to suggest that they be held together. He went onto say that proper political dialogue becomes difficult when elections keep happening continuously.

On the issue of India's foreign policy, Modi said it is based on the context of India. Modi also rejected the notion that India was putting "so much hard work" to isolate Pakistan, asserting that his efforts were aimed at uniting the world powers to defeat terrorism as his country has been suffering from the scourge since decades.

He said the suggestion that the country's foreign policy was based on Pakistan was wrong but stressed that the world was uniting against those sympathetic towards terrorists, an apparent reference to the neighbouring country. Modi also praised US President Donald Trump for raising his voice against terror with "a lot of assertion".

With regards to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu supporting his "hard power" towards terrorism, Modi said, "I'm thankful to Netanyahu for praising India but when it comes to terrorism, there is nothing called hard power or soft power, it is about humanity. Humanitarian values need to unite to combat terrorism and since this is about saving humanity, there cannot be a bigger soft power than this."

With inputs from PTI


Updated Date: Jan 22, 2018 07:32 AM

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