BJP confident of winning Uttar Pradesh: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is confident that the BJP is all set to win the forthcoming battle of Uttar Pradesh (UP) on the promise of “development and development alone.” Pointing out that the State has seen all-round decline in all spheres of development activities in the last 15 years, the Prime Minister feels that the electorate of the State will rise over divisive politics to back the BJP and bring it to power.
In an informal chat with Usha Srivastava, Resident Editor, Hindi Pioneer, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dwelt on various aspects of UP politics and stressed upon the fact that only the BJP could bring the State back from the brink of disaster.
Here are excerpts of the interview:
Modi Mania turned the tables in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Now, in the UP Assembly polls of 2017, will there be a same type of BJP tsunami under your dynamic leadership? There is no clarity as yet on the chief ministerial face of your party. Would you like to share the BJP’s strategies with regard to the upcoming UP polls?
The BJP has only one face — development. Now the country knows this quite well. So does UP. When we had no Government in Delhi, even then UP gave 73 MPs to the BJP. How the party will fare in the 2017 Assembly elections, can easily be gauged from this. We will go for polls with the same agenda of development and be sure this time the BJP is going to form a Government in UP.
Nearly 15 years of misrule have resulted in UP lagging on every parameter of development. While the industry and business should have flourished, all that has flourished are the bank balances of some leaders and political parties. The only way to save the State is through development. And only the BJP can guarantee development.
In the ranking of the Composite Educational Development Index-U-DISE for 2014-15, UP was at the bottom among all States and Union Territories. This ranking was based on four parameters, namely, accessibility of schemes for the people, infrastructure, teachers and outcomes. So this means, UP is in a bad shape on each of these parameters.
What will be your main strategy for the polls?
Our strategy will be to take UP on the path of development. The Union Government has especially approved projects worth more than Rs 1-lakh crore for UP. Out of these, Rs 68,000-crore are for roads, and Rs 27,000-crore are for the Railways, power and petroleum projects.
We must pay attention to balanced industrial development in the State. Eastern UP cannot be neglected. It is an area that is economically, educationally, and industrially backward. To reduce this imbalance, we are investing significantly in the region for the Dedicated Freight Corridor project. 18 nodes are proposed along the Dedicated Freight Corridor which will spur development. The corridor will also provide a boost to chemical, cement, fertilizer and other industries. The Union Government is also working to restart the fertilizer plant in Gorakhpur at a cost of Rs 6,000-crore. A new AIIMS is also proposed in Eastern UP. These steps will transform the industrial and economic landscape of Eastern UP.
As a Member of Parliament from Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency, you have floated innumerabledevelopment plans on a bigger canvas, but the Varanasi Vision is still in the doldrums. May we knowwhy?
After becoming Prime Minister, I have visited Varanasi much more often than I have visited Gujarat. All-round efforts are being made for the development of Varanasi. I made a personal effort to clean the lanes, and I personally monitored the drive to clean and rejuvenate the ghats. Whether it is improving passenger amenities at the railway station, or construction of roads connecting Varanasi with nearby towns, work is progressing at good speed. Public amenities are being improved in the city, taking care to preserve its ancient and cultural heritage. I personally review the progress of these works. The electric wires hanging loose over roads, the need to rejuvenate ponds and water bodies — I am aware of each of these things, and work is in progress. Efforts are being made to bring about a change in the lives of the people of Varanasi. From e-rickshaws for the rickshaw-pullers, to modern boats for the boatmen, efforts are being made to bring about prosperity and modernity in the city. Modern healthcare facilities, water ATMs, and battery operated rickshaws will meet the basic needs of the people of Varanasi.
Last month my Government launched a textile policy, which will go a long way in benefiting the entrepreneurs and small businesses in Varanasi. Now they can easily avail modern technology in the handloom sector. We are changing the rules related to these industries, and arranging proper training. All this will benefit the youth of Varanasi. I am confident that as a result of these efforts, Varanasi will be a developed and well-equipped city soon.
Reshuffle of Union Cabinet is in the offing. How many new faces will be in the revised Cabinet and howmany of them would be shown the door and what would be the basis of reshuffle? Have UP electionsimpacted the decision?
Reshuffle would neither be small nor big, it would be as per the requirement. It is in fact expansion of the Cabinet. The Government has completed two years, reappraisal is a natural process. As far as criteria of effecting change is concerned, Cabinet will surely have an imprint of what are the focus areas of my Government.
When elections approach, your development agenda is given communal colour by opponents. Why so?
If media takes our issues in right spirit and take them to people, any such attempts would be effectively frustrated and the Government would be helped in taking India on the path of development.
You believe in federalism and you always talk taking States along. In the two years of your Government,did you measure up to what you champion?
By creating Niti Aayog, I have taken a concrete and effective step to that end. Earlier, the Union Government used to decide the share for States; now the committee of Chief Ministers take decisions in this regard. I am perhaps the first PM of the country who has ruled a State for such a long time. Therefore, I know the needs of the States well.
In the slogan quoted by your Government as “Do saal- Bemisaal,” have you ever realised that theground execution of your plans and ideas have not come up to the mark. Where are the pitfalls?
It is incorrect to say that the schemes of the Government have not reached the ground level. You seem to have made the allegation and also passed judgement yourself. In our Government, schemes are not made to remain unimplemented, they are made to be fully implemented. The soaring number of the poor joining our schemes is proof of how these schemes are having an impact on the ground. 22 crore accounts have been opened under the Jan DhanYojana, and 11 crore poor have joined the insurance schemes. Over three and a half crore people have benefited from the Mudra Yojana. Three and a half crore new cooking gas connections were given last year. All this would not have been possible if the schemes were not solidly implemented on the ground.
My aim is: reform to transform. If you look at the combined effect of the various reforms we have started, the goal is a transformed India. To achieve this transformation, we intend to ensure speed and focus. We will show the same speed and focus in constructing toilets as we have shown in constructing airports; in promoting the welfare of fishermen at par with promoting our maritime economy, in the BetiBachao, BetiPadhao initiative as in bringing women in combat roles in the Air Force, in developing skills through ITIs as in fostering innovation in IITs. This Government has its feet firmly planted on the ground but its eyes are focused on attaining global standards. We are Indian in our approach, but international in our outlook.
India has lost the opportunity to strengthen the relations with Nepal and Sri Lanka in view of thegrowing influence of China. Your take on it?
We see it differently. Right from day one, my Government has emphasised on India’s relations with its neighbours. We have pioneered the policy of ‘neighbourhood first’, which is based on the idea that you cannot grow and prosper in isolation.
Right from the time I assumed office, we have placed great emphasis on enhancing connectivity, building infrastructure, trade and transit, people-to-people contacts, tourism and delivering development to our region through collaboration in health, education and technologies to mention a few areas. We share a common destiny and our neighbours are a top priority. I have always said that the future that I dream for India is the future that I want for its neighbours. In my interaction with leaders from Nepal and Sri Lanka, I have found a great deal of enthusiasm to engage actively and develop closer linkages, including benefiting from the growing Indian economy. India’s relationship with each country is independent of its relationship with others.
Nepal and Sri Lanka are close neighbours. India’s relations with both Nepal and Sri Lanka are age old and time tested. They stand on their own merit. And we are determined to further strengthen them. Our policy in this regard remains consistent and stable.
Why the financial sector reforms did not take off as desired?
Our Government is continuously taking steps for reform in the financial sector. A monetary policy committee with three representatives from Reserve Bank of India and three experts will now decide on interest rates. A system has been developed to monitor inflation continuously and keep it in check. After delay of a decade, FDI worth Rs 9000 crore has flown into the insurance sector. The bankruptcy code recently passed by Parliament will strengthen the financial and credit markets. Commercial courts are being set up to settle commercial disputes as soon as possible. The Arbitration Act has also been amended for speedy resolution of financial disputes.
-05 July 2016 | Usha Srivastava