It is that time of the year when every public statement and policy observation made by politicians is a mini poll pitch. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, in an interview to the ABP News, weighed in on several issues ranging from the Congress party to his government's Kashmir policy to the Indian Air Force's strike in Balakot, which is now mired in controversy.
When asked that between Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who does he think is a better leader, the prime minister lamented at the "paucity of grassroots leaders" in the party and said it was sad that a party which is 100-years-old is unable to produce grassroots leaders and revolve around just one family. "But otherwise, I am not personally acquainted to either of the two and never had the privilege of interacting with them on any subject, so I cannot comment," he replied.
Criticising the Congress manifesto which released recently and which promised a slew of measures, including repealing sedition laws and "amending" the AFSPA Act, Modi panned the party on its promises. The prime minister said that pitching such ideas as electoral agenda will only strengthen 'anti-national' elements who speak about dividing India. He also criticised the other promises made in the manifesto saying the party has a poor track record in following up on those promises.
"Congress had promised in Punjab, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan that they will give pension to the youth every month and pay the allowance. No government has given this so far. In 2004, he (Rahul Gandhi) promised that he would supply electricity to every household. After coming to power in 2014, I have reached 2.5 crore households so far, but still, I am a little behind in achieving the target. I might be able to do it till May-June," Modi said labelling the Congress manifesto Dakhosla Patra (A manifesto of false promises).
The prime minister also latched on to the Congress stating that it will reassess the need for Armed Forces Special Forces Act in the regions where it is in force. He claimed that the BJP would ideally want to build a nation where AFSPA becomes redundant. "But because Congress shut its eyes to the problems for 70 years, that we do not have the environment where we can repeal the law," Modi said.
Modi accused the Congress of humiliating the Indian security forces to score political goals. "The Congress in its manifesto in humiliating the Indian Army. They are talking about security personnel being accused of rape. Does all this befit a national party?" the prime minister said.
He gave the ruling NDA government full marks on creating jobs even as the Opposition has made unemployment a key poll plank. He claimed that under the MUDRA scheme, around 17 crore people availed a loan, out of which, 4,25,0000 were taking a loan for the first time. "It means that they are starting a business with that money. If someone has started a business so they must be employing at one or two."
He claimed that crores of Indians were employed in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and added that only 10 percent are employed in the formal sector and about 85 percent are working in the informal sector.
Modi claimed that it was a part of the Congress strategy to spread lies about employment data every time before elections. He, however, expressed confidence that he will be re-elected for a second term because "people were shown hope in a long time" and they could think beyond "nothing will change," narrative.
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Updated Date: Apr 05, 2019 13:10:06 IST