Modi ends 'Reliance Day' with TV18 interview that had something for everyone
Friday seems to have been a Reliance-centric day for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. If Friday morning\'s newspapers carried full page advertisements for Mukesh Ambani\'s Reliance Jio with Modi\'s smiling picture, in the evening the PM appeared in an exclusive interview to the Reliance-owned Network 18.
Modi spoke on various issues including curbing black money, atrocities on Dalits and other marginalised groups, violent protests in Jammu and Kashmir, holding Assembly and Lok Sabha elections together, role of media, among other issues.
In the 75-minute long interview, the prime minister particularly took a tough stand on black money and said that he should not be blamed if he took some decisions on those who won\'t declare black money before 30 September.
The prime minister was equally harsh on those, including his party men, who make "reckless statements, saying anything about anyone or any person\'s community before the media". He spoke at length on the country\'s economic progress and how his government is trying to undo the damage done by the previous government.
Here are the 10 main points the prime minister raised during his interview:
Modi said that he would let people judge it and cited several instances of how Indian economy is showing signs of recovery. However, he didn't shy away from criticising the previous UPA government who he blamed for policy paralysis. "Whenever my government is evaluated, the situation of the government before we came to power must be kept in mind. My first priority after forming the government was that the atmosphere of despair should be removed and create hope and belief in the country," he said.
Speaking for the first time to media on the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir, Modi called it an old problem which each government had to battle with. Maintaining his old position that development and trust can be a solution to the dispute, he said, "I believe the youth of Kashmir will not be distracted. We will proceed together maintaining peace, unity and goodwill so that the heaven called Kashmir will remain a heaven. Problems will also get solved. That's why I always maintain that people of Kashmir need both development and trust. And 1 billion Indians have always stayed committed to development and India has never wavered from its commitment of trust."
Claiming to be a champion of the Dalit cause, the prime minister said that he is devoted to the development of all underprivileged and deprived classes. He even cautioned his party men for making reckless statements against other communities and said, "And I want to tell this to our politicians, including my party's leaders: reckless statements, saying anything about anyone or any person's community before the media. The media will come to you. It needs its TRPs. But you are answerable to the nation."
Responding to the question on the impact of the recently passed GST Bill, Modi labelled it as "the biggest tax reform since the Independence of India" and how it will change India forever. He said, "GST will simplify tax payments so much that anyone who wants to contribute to the country will come forward. Taxation system will also be simplified. There is mistrust amongst state and Centre, it will end with GST. This will also strengthen the federal structure of the nation."
He drew attention towards a crucial reforms in the education sector which he said was not given due attention - freeing 10 government and 10 private universities from UGC rules. "We will give them money and they must move towards becoming world class universities. If rules were holding them up, we will remove the rules," the prime minister claimed.
He was particularly harsh on those not declaring their black money and warned them of action if they didn't join the mainstream. "There's a scheme which is running till 30 September. For all those who are still willing to come in the mainstream, I have said this in public that 30 September is your last date. You may have made mistakes with whatever intentions. ...But no one should blame me if I take tough decisions after the 30th. This money belongs to the country's poor. No one has the right to loot this," he cautioned those who are yet to report black money.
The prime minister also pushed for clubbing Lok Sabha and Assembly elections and informed that leaders of political parties repeatedly ask him for conducting this crucial exercise. "Why don't we club Assembly elections with Lok Sabha polls? And why don't we hold local body elections as well during that time, so that the entire election process gets over in a week to 10 days time and for five years the country runs uninterruptedly? ...Government alone can't do this. The Election Commission has to lead this effort and all parties have to agree on this."
When asked about his opinion on the constant power struggle in Lutyens Delhi, the prime minister said that there's "no question of liking or disliking Lutyens Delhi". "But there's is a need to deliberate on this. In Delhi's power corridors, there's an active group of people which is dedicated to only a few. It could be because of their own reasons or personal gains. It's not a question of Modi."
Reacting to his hot and cold relationship with the media, the prime minister thanked the entire media across the county for making what he is today. "Otherwise democracy won't work. But unfortunately, in this TRP rat-race, the media doesn't have enough time for research. Criticism is not possible without research. For 10 minutes of criticism you need 10 hours of research, "he added.
When asked whether he has any his regrets, Modi siad that he should have placed a White Paper in Parliament on the economic situation in the country in 2014. "I had two paths then. Politics told me that I should put out all the details. But the nation's interest told me that this information would increase the sense of hopelessness, markets would be badly hit, it would be big blow to the economy and the world's view of India would get worse."