Excerpts of Shri Narendra Modi’s interview to ANI
Q: How close are you the magic number of 272 seats?
First of all we might address more than 180 rallies as I have been campaigning all across the country. BJP nominated me as its prime ministerial candidate on 13th September. When I addressed a rally in rewari of ex-servicemen, since then I have addressed more than 360 rallies. After the announcement of elections, maybe 180-190 rallies. I have used new technology/3D technology I try to reach the people.
If there is no technical fault, then I might address more than 1000 3d meets.
In a democracy, elections are a way of teaching parliamentary education. All political parties and leaders should reach out to the people. This is my aim and that is what I am working on. As far as the result of the elections are concerned, I have worked as a backroom boy for all these years and I am used to work for the party organisation. Election preparation and strategy and all the intricacies, it’s today that my role has changed and I am seen public more. That is why I never see an election as an aggregation of numbers.
According to performance of the Congress party in the last ten years, in the history of the Congress party, this will be probably be their worst performance, and it will be historically be the best performance for the NDA and the BJP. One of our best performances.
Q: Why did you choose Varanasi? Is it because it leads to Delhi via UP?
A: It was not my decision whether to fight the LS polls, where to fight from and from how many constituencies I will fight from. It is done by the BJP, Central election committee and parliamentary board. Since I am a worker of the party, I do as I am told.
Q: Since you are fighting from 2 constituencies, which constituency would you be more loyal too and which one will you give up?
A: Firstly my loyalty lies with 125 crore people of this country and in any part of world, if anybody does some good to you, then you always feel like returning that favour. For example if someone even offers you water, you always feel like repaying back the generosity shown. These are my principles.
Q: So you have paid the debt of the Gujarat and its people. Will you leave Vadodara?
A: Leaving and selecting will decide on the mood of the people and the strategy of my party. After winning I belong to everybody and I will work for everybody. That is my nature.
Q: Who will you handover Gujarat to when you move to Delhi? You haven t zeroed in as of yet
A: There will some worker of the BJP (who will be the CM if Modi becomes PM) As of yet Modi cannot do it since BJP is the organisation. There are elected leader, election committee, parliamentary board and central leadership. Everybody will decide together.
Q: I was in Varanasi a few weeks ago over there...there is a perception that Muslims fear that Hindutva agenda would forced upon them? Are their fears justified?
A: I am not going to Banaras to defeat anybody, it is not my aim. I m going there to win hearts of the people. Whenever they will meet me in person and not through media or my opponents, then I am sure they will love which they haven’t to any political leader.
Q: But your opponent Kejriwal has already reached there, He says he is an anarchist? He is attacking you directly. What will be your strategy?
A: I don’t know any strategist who divulges his details on TV
Q: In UP, the local leadership is pretty upset about ticket distribution, leaders like M M Joshi and Lalji Tandon, which they say might affect at least ten seats? So you think there is any mistake?
A: This issue is an old one, has been debated enough. Analysis that winning these seats is difficult is incorrect. This information is wrong as well as the analysis.
Q: So you are confident that this is not going to affect you?
A: Not just UP, the whole country will not be affected.
Q: The reason for Modi wave is sidelining of the old guard and emergence of aggressive new guard.
A: I don’t understand the term ‘Guard’. You find them in train bogies. All my leaders are like the engine of the train.
Q: Leaders like Advani and MM joshi being guides in the party, and main job is being takeover by the 2nd generation
A: There is nothing such as takeover. Guidance is still with the experience leaders and they are guiding us.
Q: There is no Modi wave in Southern India like in the northern part, is this because of a mistake in the pre poll alliance
A: There is a long perception process in our country. There is a wrong perception in our country and I want political pundits and mediaperson to come out of this thought process. During Jansangh days, it was said that the BJP only belongs to Baniya-Brahmin. Sometimes it was said that it was the party of the cow belt or Hindi belt. Sometimes it was said that it belongs to urban India. All this thinking belongs to people who refuse to read new material and continue to dig into this.
If you look at the analysis, Gujarat is not a Hindi speaking state but still we are in power for the last 25 years. Same can be said about Goa and Karnataka. We were a part of the coalition govt. in Odisha. Same ways we were a partner in the govts in Tamil Nadu, Andhra and J-K.
So there is a perception and not the reality. Today, the BJP belongs to the rural people, farmers, backwards, north-south-east-west, on every crossing of the country. In these elections also we are performing on every front. Thirdly, earlier BJP was considered as untouchable party where only RSS and Shiv Sena were considered the allies. But for the first time there has been a party that has forged a prepoll alliance with 25 parties. It is unprecedented.
Q: Why not forge an alliance with Jayalalithaa, instead of indulging in delivering bitter remarks to each other? She was there in your swearing in ceremony. Both of you were considered close to each other. This looks like a fixed match.
A: Firstly, there has been no bitter criticism. In Democracy everybody has a right to put forth their views in their own language. BJP and all other parties have this right.
Q: You had good relations with Jayalalithaa and considering yesterday speeches, you both were taking potshots at each other. How did this happen?
A: In politics, I don’t believe an inch in untouchability. No matter how much political enmity exists but on personal level friendship is considered , this is the beauty of our democracy. There can be views and opinions, there can be differences. You must have seen Sharad Pawar, who had bitterly criticized me, and even I had indulged in the same on political platform, but personally we share good terms, which both of us acknowledge. Even with Jayalalithaa it’s the same thing. Even in Congress, there are many leaders with whom I share good terms. There is nothing such as enmity. There is competition and there is an ideological revolution. Therefore, politics of untouchability never empowers the democracy.
Q: While campaigning Rahul has alleged that state machinery was being used for snooping on a woman?
A: If you look at the records of crime against women, out of the first the ten states in the country where the rate is highest, seven are being ruled by Congress governments. And three are partner states of UPA.
Not even one of them belongs to BJP in that list of first ten states and also no state belong to a BJP ally. This is very satisfying and pleasing record of BJP when it comes to crimes against women.
In our country, crime against women is not limited to any one family or individual. It is a matter of shame for entire humanity. It is affecting the image of India in the whole world. That is why like a county, a part of human society and government we should try to be more sensitive towards the issue. If there is Modi government then it too, should be sensitive to this issue. This issue should be kept away from political bickering. Women dignity should be our priority. I should not abuse congress on this issue nor Rahul Gandhi. I think we will keep on doing our politics but it will be our mother and sisters who will continue to suffer and be insulted. For God’s sake I appeal to everybody. Recently Mulayam Singh too said something and then there was Nirbhaya case going on in Delhi. Media asked me repeatedly, but I maintained that my priority is just woman dignity. Me blaming other political parties I forget that I am hurting women dignity. That is why I ensure that my thinking is apolitical on this issue. It should be apolitical.
Q. As far as we talk about political bickering, it has become standard for political parties who often issue wrong statements or language. Will there be some score settling if your party comes to power?
As far as Narendra Modi is concerned you can see my track record of last 14 years in Gujarat. People don’t choose me for score settling or to do some wrong to a particular leader. The priority of the government is ensuring maximum welfare of the people. If we indulge in political score settling then we will never be able to do any good work for the people. There is no negativity inside me. I keep working like a crazy person for positive work.
Q. You have said that those people who have done some wrong will be put behind bars.
A. In our country, criminalisation of politics is a grave issue. And this concern is shared by every citizen of the country. It should be the concern of every party and all the leaders. In the beginning the leadership that emerged was from the revolution for Independence. Then it came from social welfare. Then it went towards casteism. Slowly and slowly leadership started emerging through gunpoint. This was a big deterioration which is of grave concern. Earlier political parties use to seek help of criminals to for gains. But then criminals felt that why shouldn’t they themselves do this? So this was the situation which started developing. Even if this was in small percentages like 2 percent or 5 percent, it was an issue of concern.
Q: Now what is the solution for this?
A: One solution is that political parties feel determined and don’t give tickets to such leaders. But this situation hasn’t arrived as of now. So should we let it continue like this? I have made up my mind that this time the MLAs or MPs who have been elected, to whichever party they belong, even if they belong to BJP. If they have criminal charges against them, then I would request the SC to arrange special courts for them and all these criminals’ cases be disposed off within a year. So that if a person is convicted, and his seat is vacated then a person of non criminal background can takeover. In this way the criminal layer in politics would be erased.
Q. Would you try to bring political consensus on this issue in the parliament?
A. Every party raises this issue, but nobody actually takes an initiative. I want to do this and I think this is the best way but I am open to other good ideas. This should not be taken in a political context to put someone in jail but the real issue is that if Modi has 4 FIRs on his name then he should be tried within a year. This is what I am saying, there is nothing vindictive. It’s not that we will start a new CBI inquiry or dig out files of certain leaders. I don’t want to commit this sin.
I want the credibility of the Indian institutions and the respect of the constitutional organization to be increased. If the country stands on multiple pillars of constitutional institutions then it will emerge stronger.
Q: Sanjay Baru’s Book. Will you investigate how files from the PMO went outside? Will you constitute any committee just like there was NAC in the UPA?
A: I don’t take a vindictive approach towards anything. If the people will give me time, then that will be limited to 60 months. In these 60 months, I will rather make a new garden than wipe out other people's garbage. I don’t want to waste my time in such things and have greater things to do. I will invest my time and energy in doing something constructive.
Q: The Congress has alleged that there are certain big businessmen behind your emergence and they talk about you benefitting Adani and Ambani when you come to power? People think one type of crony capitalism will go and a new one will emerge? Will sweet heart deals be given to such businessmen?
A: To be specific, the per capita income of Gujarat is higher than that of India as a whole. In India, 57 percent of the total employment was generated from Gujarat. Now who benefitted? It was the poor. Earlier there was 2 percent agriculture growth in my state but in the last ten years it has grown to 10 percent. It was the farmer who has benefitted. There was no tourism in Gujarat, but today the growth in tourism in Gujarat is much higher than that of national average. Who benefitted? It was the chaiwallahs, auto drivers, handicraft workers etc. So there was growth for everybody and this is what that should happen. Not only these small scale industries. You will be pleased to know that at least 80 percent of growth in small scale industries in India happened in Gujarat. So people who accuse me have nothing new to say.
Secondly, how come the government in Delhi who says that I have done wrong in Gujarat is not able to investigate their charges properly? Therefore, such a government should not continue who have so much to accuse me of in its speeches but has nothing to take action on. Such a non performing government should not continue even for a minute.
Q: They also say that you are very good in marketing yourself and that you have spent 10000 crore on elections.
A: They talk about the figures which they dream about while sleeping. I have requested Anand Sharma, who made these allegations, to conduct an inquiry into these allegations, as the present government still has 25 days. Is it not there duty to unearth the truth? Therefore it is my appeal and all those who have leveled charges against me should investigate them.
Election commission has constituted observers for electoral expenses in every constituency. The ECI is scrutinizing everything. Still, I ask the Congress leaders to submit all their evidences with the ECI and there should be a strict investigation into this. Secondly, shouldn’t there be a good campaign in the country? I am surprised. I have the power to visit 500-600 zilas of the country, then is it crime? You should also go. In a democracy, you have a responsibility. It different thing that they don’t go.
Q: Their allegation pertains to that “Advertisement is good but doubts are there about the product”
A: By marketing they mean Gujarat. Marketing is considered an important aspect in all over the world. But if I say that I have made a good road here and advertises it nicely, but to people the road will be visible. They don’t know about marketing. I say that I have given water to people, then it won’t reach through marketing. They will only believe after they get it.
The people of Gujarat agreed with us in 2002, 2007 and again in 2012. For the last 15 years, the whole Gujarat only believes in what it feels and what people has seen through their eyes. They don’t agree to marketing. Maybe the people living in Assam, Tamil Nadu or any other state might get confused because of marketing but the people of Gujarat will actually ask about the work. Therefore the performance of the Modi government has been weighed on the grounds of truth and has been passed with distinction marks.
Q: Why did you maintain a silence on Gujarat riot till you was cleared by the SIT?
A: Since 27 February 2002, the compilation of all the interviews and press conferences should be presented before the country. There was no top journalist to whom I hadn’t given an interview. I answered all the questions of every newspaper of this country. I have been giving answers to these questions from 2002 to 2007. I later realized that this is not an effort to know the whole truth. This is some unknown world which is actually conspiring. Then I thought that I have said enough. The court of the public has acquitted me. Same happened in Supreme Court also.
I have gone through all the mediums through which you actually test a person. Therefore, I think the people, who are still stuck, will keep on doing what they are doing. But I don’t have to waste my time anymore. I have so much to do for the people of this country. So I have focused myself on this work only.
Q: They also raise question regarding the validity of the SIT report in High Court?
A: I have given all the answers. I have even written a blog on this. Just study my interviews from 2002 to 2007. Everything is available on YouTube. Why mislead the country and yourself? I am accountable and the people of this country have a right to ask for an account of every moment. They have a right to ask for an account of my views and opinions. I am committed to democracy. I am not a son of a rich person or the Prime Minister. I am just a common person and am answerable to the people. Even a kid has a right to ask for an account from Modi. But, it is also responsibility to study the answers the person is giving.
Q: Because of 2002 Gujarat riots, you had a complicated relationship with the media?
A: It is a very lovely relation. If the media had not worked hard to defame Modi, then who would have known Modi today?
Q: Even your supporters allege that the media is defaming Modi?
A; I view it differently. I respect the media very much and in a democracy it is the job of the media to criticize. If it does not happen then it will be very costly for the country. Therefore I pray that the media should become even stronger and should criticize more as it will benefit the country. But the problem is not the media. It is the news traders which is the problem today. Media and news traders are two different things. News traders have vested interests. They have sponsors. The country has to be made aware about the real media and news traders. Improvement cannot be done without criticism. It is impossible. Does Modi not have any shortcomings or faults? Does he not have negatives? Who will tell that? The media should point out that.
Q: Are you open to change or suggestion?
A: Yes, yes. I have a system in Gujarat. Suppose, there is a news report about manhole in some village, then I take that very seriously. I give importance to it. If there any negative news about anything, then I don’t feel bad about it. I immediately direct it to my office and ask for an explanation. Therefore it is a source of information for me.
Q: Kejriwal has alleged that if Modi government comes to power, then all the editors will not be spared.
A: My government in Gujarat has been there for 14 years, how many editors are victimized? Here not even a reporter was victimized.
Q: Your puppy analogy was severely criticized. Looking back, do you think you should not have said that?
A: Again it was the news traders who made an issue out of this interview. The person who took my interview had tweeted that Modi had not meant what has been made out of interview. He was a foreigner. Secondly, those who know India’s language and sentiment will be able to understand it better. Both the language and the sentiment are important. If we say that even if an ant dies, we feel pain, then it does not mean that we are comparing an ant with a person who died. Now it is the problem of those news traders.
Q: Media has many questions regarding 2002. One is regarding an apology and regret.
A: If I had lost the assembly elections in 2002 and in 2007, then nobody would have asked this question. There is certain group of people who think that despite of all their vicious campaign and attacks on Modi, why he hasn’t lost the elections. It is their obstinacy that they will show ground to Modi. Secondly, I am convinced that even if there is one percent truth in their allegations, then for the sake of India’s prosperous future and traditions Modi should be hanged in the middle of a street. Such a condition should be made of him that nobody can commit this sin ever again for the next 100 years. If you have committed a sin, then what is this that you ask for forgiveness for it? It is absolutely wrong. Modi should never be forgiven. Modi should be thoroughly investigated through all the legal systems, and should be hanged to death if there is even an inch of fault is pointed out.
Q: Secondly you haven’t worn the traditional skull cap of the Muslim community?
A: My mind is defined that I will respect my traditions. I honor the traditions of everybody. Secondly, everybody knows that Gandhi never had to wear any cap. Same can be said about Nehru and Sardar Patel. It is in the last two decades that this has taken a political color. I am against appeasement politics. I will never follow the symbols of appeasement politics. Yes, I will ensure punishment for anybody, who plays with Muslim’s skull cap. The government has to ensure that their cap is respected. Nobody can compel me to wear a cap for a photo op.
Did Sonia Gandhi wear a cap? With all love I had accepted their traditional cloth.
Q: Let’s talk about foreign policy. It has been reported in media that the Modi government. If voted to power, will have a muscular foreign policy?
A: Firstly, a person who has never spoken or done anything, is it not a sin to make presumptive allegations. Is it not wrong to make such presumptions? Secondly, we are the people who consider the world a family. Times have changed now. We are not living in 18th or 19th century. We are living 21st century. Days of showing eyes to others are gone. It is the time to make eye contact. We should have an eye contact business with everybody. Neither should we let our eyes down nor should show it to anybody.
Q: You have an issue with America over your visa?
A: A country does not work according to a preference of a certain individual. What happened with Modi does not affect the policies of the country. India’s policy should be according to its traditions. It should be according to the legacy left behind by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. A country does not run if we keep on bickering over past sayings. It is run while looking at the future. Therefore whatever is in interest of India then that should be done.
Q: You talked about Atalji. His government was giving mixed signals regarding Pakistan. Even you have delivered some anti-Pakistan speeches? What is the view of the BJP about Pakistan?
A: Firstly, whether it is BJP or any other part, their approach should such that upholds the supremacy of India’s interests. There should not be any compromise on this. Secondly, it is always better to keep good relations with other and then move forward. The path of struggle is not at all beneficial to anybody. Therefore we were strong for struggle but we want to live with respect, and should also uphold the dignity of others. This should be our system.
Q: What is Modi’s vision about India’s relation with China?
A: There should not be any compromise on India’s interest. We should have look at each other eye to eye not lower our eyes. Neither should we let our eyes down nor should show it to anybody.
Q: In BJP manifesto, it has been mentioned that there will be a relook at ‘No first use Policy’. It signals that Modi government might go for weaponisation instead of disarmament. Will we still maintain our commitment to disarmament?
A: Firstly, it is the land of Buddha and Mahavir. It is the land of Gandhi, and therefore we don’t speak in such way just because we have a political agenda. It is the country which speaks not a political party. We want the world to be free of its struggle. We want it to be free of its race for weapons. And this is not a political agenda. It is a part of India’s legacy and every political party has accepted it. Therefore there is no dilemma in our minds.
It is our necessity to be powerful. But it should not be used to crush another country. Power is for our defense. ‘No first use’ is a very good initiative of Atalji and there is no compromise on this. We are very clear on this. It is a part of our legacy.
Q: In Sanjay Baru in his book has claimed that 24 hours before the budget was presented, Pranab Mukherjee informed Dr. Singh about the retrospective tax being included in the Budget. It leads to withdrawal of FDI from the country. If your government comes to power, what steps will be taken to bring back confidence in the Indian market?
A: Anywhere in the world, even in Gujarat, if changes things retrospectively, then nobody will have confidence. Breach of trust is the biggest problem which should never happen. Therefore we are committed to this. But for the future there should be open policies. People will decide that this is our policy and the country will work accordingly. Those who want to come will come and to those our policies are not suited will not come. But if we make policies and accordingly we invite someone, and then suddenly we change it. So the trust does not form there. It does not even form in personal lives, how come it will form in context of a country. Therefore, there is a problem of breach of trust problem in our country. It is not that other countries hate India, they want to invest here. But there are constant ups and downs in the policies of the government. This is has caused them (investors) a dilemma. If we are able to stabilize this confidence will surely build up.
Q: You have backed the demand for strong federal structure and decentralization, but if you will become the PM, what would you do- decentralization or centralization?
A: I was successful as the Chief Minister of Gujarat because I have no power in Gujarat. Everything is decentralized, and my strength lies in team formation. I feel the federal structure should be implemented in letter and spirit with lubricating attitude. A chief Minister and a Prime Minister should work in a team. State and centre are colleagues and not competitors. There should be cooperative politics and cooperative agenda. There should be the approach.
What happened with the Congress is that earlier everything was with them only so they never understood this. Afterwards they felt threatened by states, so they started attacking through Article 365. After that they thought of defection and brought destabilization. So the way they have victimized the states created lack of confidence. Today states do not trust the centre and vice versa. This should not happen in a country like India. It is my wish to fill the void created by the Congress in the Centre-state relationship. The whole country should work like a team. Every state has its own power
Q: You have sought a debate on Article 370. Farooq Abdullah has demanded that there should be a debate on Kashmir’s accession to India also? Is the BJP government ready for this debate?
A: For a democracy, having a debate is not bad. Rahul has repeatedly claimed that that his party has brought the RTI act but is it applicable in Kashmir? There is reservation for OBCs and right to education, but are they applicable in Kashmir? If Kashmir is not getting benefit from these acts and remains a backward state, then is it good for our country? Therefore the progress in Kashmir should be exactly like it is happening in other states. We have to take everybody onboard.
Now even the people of Kashmir are getting aware about where there is benefit for them.
Q: If you become the PM, then will you raise the issue of POK with Pakistan?
A: Firstly this issue is not of the BJP or Atalji. The Parliament has passed with majority a proposal. Such a proposal cannot be overlooked by any political party. So the issue is not about Atalji or the BJP, it is related to the parliament of India and nothing is bigger than this.
Q: You have taken three different pledges in your manifesto?
A: It is not the first time I have said this publicly in 2002, again in 2007 and in 2012 also. I had said that whatever I day after the election, then I will ask the same question again in next election. I ask whether I have fulfilled whatever I had promised or not. I say that you have given me a post and it is not for enjoyment. I will work hard and will not let you down. This I have been saying since 2002. Secondly I say, that I am not for myself, I work for the people. Thirdly, I say that while working I might make mistakes, but I never do anything with wrong mind. This is what I have said in all these elections. This is my direct communication with the people.
Q: Amit Shah made some remarks but he has your blessing?
A: In the BJP, there is no culture of maintaining favorites. This perception which is being created is injustice to me as well as to Amit Shah. Whatever he is today is on the basis of merit and the structural organization of BJP. To say he is a Modi favorite would be to undermine his excellence. Secondly the concerned issue, on which the debate has risen, has already been answered by Amit Shah to the election commission. I haven’t heard his whole speech since I keep touring but according to the information I have got, he was referring to democratic processes only. He was talking about election procedure and hasn’t used any words which can be questioned. This is what I have heard. The matter is with EC. Let’s wait for its judgment.
Q. Rajnath Singh keeps saying that Modi is BJP and BJP is Modi which sounds similar to D.K Barooah’s ‘Indira’ is India, India is Indira’
A. Both have a lot of difference, I feel. The wave is a wave of aspirations of the people of India, wave of hard work of lakhs of workers of BJP. This wave is of mental strength, capacity of top BJP leaders. It is a wave for change. It belongs to lotus and BJP and I am just a small soldier of the party.
Q. How do you stimulate your social media team?
A: Firstly, the social media should not be viewed in political paradigm. The people of the country are still not understanding that it is a very big canvas. Today, I know so many people like farmers who can decide where to sell their yield. It has offered a wide range of communication facility. He can get access to markets in different states through social media.
Secondly, I used to watch programmes where kids used to perform on stage. I felt there is so much talent in this country. And then I also come across the creativity of the youth on social media. I feel that every leader of this country, sportsperson, mediaperson should learn from this platform. I have taken social media as a source of information. I have used it as a highway to connect to the people, which have added to my strength. I have not used it to disseminate my views but to grab the views of the masses.
Q: How do you take criticism of the opposition which is centre on you?
A: I used to feel upset about it and I am not a very social person who has friends etc. When there is no work, I stay alone. I believe in God. I have recently released a book ‘Sakshi Bhav’. It discloses some important aspects of my life. It has been written by me even before I started my political career. At that time I used to write letters to Goddess of which many were destroyed. But some of them which were left from the 80’s have been compiled into a book. This will give an insight into Modi’s inner self.
I have taken 125 crore people as my confidantes. No individual is more special to me. But never take criticism in a negative manner. I analyze it and try to use it for my benefit.
Slowly I started understanding that it was a professional hazard and that I have to live with it and bear it. So, I chose to use it as my strength. I don’t have any bad feeling about anybody even after what all happened. I might have said something’s about Rahul, Sonia, Manmohan and Nitish but it was just under election fever.
Q: What wail be your priority in first 100 days after coming to power?
A: I want to run the government professionally. Secondly, the biggest crisis in the country is lack of trust, crisis of stagnancy, where we need to give some momentum. If we start all this everything will fall into place.