Election Watch: In interview to IE, Modi trains guns on ‘Khan Market gang’

Election Watch: In interview to IE, Modi trains guns on ‘Khan Market gang’

PW Bureau

Modi also framed the 2019 electoral contest as a fight between the elite consensus of the 'Khan Market gang' that he defeated in 2014 and his '45 years of tapasya'

New Delhi: As India prepares to vote in the final phase of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to English daily The Indian Express and touched upon a variety of issues, including the legacy of other governments (UPA and NDA) vis-à-vis his own, the overhaul in the bureaucratic work culture that the PM credits himself with, the challenges he inherited from the previous regime and the caustic personal attacks made by various political leaders against each other in the run up to the elections this year, among others. Modi also framed the 2019 electoral contest as a fight between the elite consensus of the "Khan Market gang" that he defeated in 2014 and his "45 years of tapasya."

Here are 10 highlights from the interview:

  1. "Every pollster, media, Lutyens Club, the Khan Market gang, was eager to defeat us and predictions were being made that we will wind up with about 40 seats in all three states. We were in power for 15 years in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. There was some natural anti-incumbency within the cadre as well as stakeholders. They (the Congress) could not form a full majority government, neither in Madhya Pradesh nor Rajasthan… We had more votes than them (in Madhya Pradesh). So, the results, in a way, were a confidence-builder for party cadres."
  2. "If the Prime Minister doesn't keep travelling across the country, how will he be aware of all that is happening? This should be acknowledged — that this Prime Minister does not go travelling on a holiday."
  3. "Except during elections, you will rarely find me speaking against a party or its leaders. Unless there have been some remarks (from the Opposition) that day, which I need to respond to. You can see this from my speeches since the days as Gujarat Chief Minister. This is my commitment… even in Parliament."
  4. "I will tell you two incidents which I would like The Indian Express to write about in the correct perspective. From where did this INS (Viraat) subject come? This is not a new issue that I wasn't aware of. Why did it come? When the Congress president, at a press conference, says that the Army isn't a personal jaagir (property) of Modi — all of you missed this —then I have to say what's it like to have a personal fiefdom."
  5. "Modi ki chhavi, Delhi ke Khan Market ke gang ne nahin banayi hai, Lutyens Delhi ne nahin banayi hai. 45 saal ki Modi ki tapasya ne chhavi banayi hai. Achchi hai ya buri hai (Modi's image has not been created by the Khan Market gang, or Lutyens Delhi, but 45 years of his toil… good or bad). You cannot dismantle it."
  6. "When Parliament functions, on an average each day I meet 40-45 MPs across party lines. Dialogue is very important in democracy."
  7. "Similarly in Parliament (at the Centre), all you need to do is to find out the average time of Cabinet meetings during the Manmohan Singh government. The average time was 20 minutes. The average time of my Cabinet meetings is three hours. What do you think happens over that time?"
  8. "I want to build the country on multi-pillars. If someone says cleanliness is your legacy, I will say I got toilets built in a big way. Someone will claim preventive healthcare as legacy, I will remind you of Ayushman Bharat."
  9. "A lot needs to be done in the health sector. But if there is no client, who will build infrastructure? Now when we have created a chain over which the health sector will be built up — is this empowerment or dole? I have never called Right to Food a dole. I have never called Right to Education a dole. But I called it an election stunt."
  10. "There are two parts to it. Char-dhams are said to be sufficient for moksha, but files can't redeem themselves even after passing through 32 places in government. I had to change this. You will be surprised to know that files reach me after just four to six stops in between. Cabinet notes used to take six months earlier. It takes 15 days now."
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