What will be your priority after getting a clear majority in this election and what will be the first item of your agenda?

Our agenda is clear and has been stated upfront by us -- we will make every effort to ensure we move closer to the goal of a Viksit Bharat. For this, we have already prepared a plan for the next five years as well as the action items for the first 100 days of the new government.

When you talk about Vision 2047, the first 100 days, what exactly do you have in mind?

Those who have observed my work keenly would know that I have a habit of taking many important decisions within the first 100 days of our government, setting the pace and momentum for the rest of the five years. We have already been working on a big milestone -- making India the world's third largest economy. This will further impart momentum towards our goal. As I have said, we will work 24X7 for 2047. Every moment of my time will be devoted to ensure that the people of our country are able to fulfil their aspirations.

You are right when you talk about 2047, please shed some light on the last five years too?

In 2019, within the first 100 days, a number of important decisions were taken. Action was taken against Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Anti-terror laws were strengthened through the amendments to UAPA. The Bill against triple talaq became an Act. Bank mergers were announced to ensure that the health of our banks was improved. Many sectors saw FDI reforms. A strong law against unregulated deposit schemes that cheat small investors was brought in. MSP hikes were announced. PM-Kisan which was originally only for small and marginal farmers was extended to all farmers. Pension schemes for farmers and traders were brought in. The Jal Shakti ministry was formed. There are many more such steps that were taken.

Will your announcement of making India prosperous and developed by 2047 be a national issue in this election?

What we must understand is that this dream of building a Viksit Bharat by 2047 is not one man or one party's dream. This is a goal that the people of India have themselves taken to their heart. It is the development trajectory of the last 10 years that has enabled our nation to dream of creating a Viksit Bharat. Remember the times before 2014.

Can you please elaborate on this a little more?

The underprivileged sections of society, farmers, banking system and economy had all suffered greatly under the mismanagement of the UPA's decade-long government. People were frustrated by corruption and policy paralysis. The work done by us after that is in front of people.

What changes has your government brought about?

We embarked on a dual mission: empowering the poor with essentials like sanitation, electricity, financial inclusion, etc., while also revitalising the economy of our country through comprehensive reforms. In the last 10 years, not only did our nation help 25 crore people rise above poverty but we also jumped from being the 11th largest economy to the 5th largest one. Our reforms breathed new life into various sectors, from manufacturing to startups and even space exploration. From small toys to Chandrayaan, from Vande Bharat trains to mobiles, from drones to aircraft carriers, our country is developing new capabilities in our mission to become atmanirbhar.

You talk about developed India. Is the vision of Viksit Bharat resonating with people?

Our true national character came out when faced with a once-in-a-century challenge of Covid-19. The country came together to save lives, take care of the poor, produce vaccines, vaccinate not only our own country but also the other countries. We did all this while managing the economy much better compared to the rest of the world.

Further, India's rising importance in the post-Covid world has instilled a newfound confidence in people, both in India and abroad, that this is India's time. This is why I said, "Yahi Samay Hai, Sahi Samay Hai."After decades of fighting for even the basic things, now, finally, 140 crore Indians are able to look towards the future with hope and confidence. This is why the vision of Viksit Bharat is resonating with everyone, especially the younger generation. Wherever I go, I see people inspired to realise this dream.

We are from Maharashtra. So, how will Maharashtra benefit from this?

Our long-term vision is of Viksit Maharashtra for a Viksit Bharat. In the next five years, this will mean a massive thrust for the development of Maharashtra across many sectors. Maharashtra is a state that has everything -- from financial hubs to information technology, from hardworking farmers to an industrial base, from a long coastline to a great history of courage and social reform. Our mission has been to enable these natural strengths of the state with appropriate policies and infrastructure to make the lives of the people better. Every project, whether it is an irrigation project, a new hospital, a new industry, a highway, a metro or an airport, has been aimed at ensuring a better life for all sections of society. This focus will continue with an even greater momentum. We will continue to build top-class infrastructure across Maharashtra which will not only help the existing growth hubs such as Mumbai and Pune but also create more such growth hubs. We will empower the farmers of the state with every facility, be it insurance or irrigation or market access.

Maharashtra has set an example before the country in the cooperative sector!

True. This is also a state with a strong cooperative sector. Our newly formed cooperative ministry will further empower this sector to transform lives at the grassroots level. We will help the cooperatives adopt digital technologies. At the same time, we will also enable the cooperative model to help even sectors such as fishing, agro-processing and services, etc.

While there are so many opportunities for tourism in Maharashtra, do you think they get due justice

What you say is correct. Maharashtra has a huge coastline. I think there is still a lot of scope for tourism, which our infrastructure building drive will help. As tourists arrive in greater numbers, local economies improve and local incomes increase. Maharashtra is also very rich in terms of having many traditional textiles, handloom and handicrafts, art and culture. We will ensure bigger platforms to showcase these unique things, which in turn will improve the lives of those involved in such sectors. The land of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is famous for its legendary forts. There are so many pilgrimage spots, natural hotspots and beaches in Maharashtra. There is still a lot of scope for tourism.

Which new industries and sectors are on your priority for Maharashtra?

Let me tell you, Maharashtra has immense potential. Our manifesto is clear about the steps we want to take in semiconductor manufacturing, green energy, EV manufacturing, AI, electronics and fintech services. Maharashtra has an advantage in all these sectors and will become a key player in them. We want to see every section of society in Maharashtra to progress and fulfil their aspirations.

You created jobs through schemes like startup and Make in India. How do you plan to create more jobs in future?

It is heartening to note that a media house like yours has looked at the facts related to job creation and acknowledges the progress we have made on that front through various initiatives. When we talk of employment or jobs, often only false narratives are seen rather than factual conversations. Whether it is the public sector, private sector, entrepreneurship or newly created sectors, we have worked on a multipronged strategy to ensure opportunities for our youth. Take government jobs for example. Before the model code of conduct came into effect, I was regularly holding Rozgar Melas. Lakhs of youth have received their recruitment letters. In the private sector, the growth of our manufacturing sector and startups has been phenomenal.

Did startups boost exports?

I always believe that youngsters should be mentored to launch startups. We have become the third largest startup hub in the world. From a mobile importer, we became the second largest manufacturer of mobile. From a toy importer, we have now come to a stage where our toy exports have grown considerably. Our defence exports have grown over 20-fold in the last 10 years. These are just some snapshots of our phenomenal manufacturing sector. Lakhs of youth are running startups or working in them. It is a matter of pride that a big chunk of these is led by young women.

The number of formal jobs should also increase. Do you think it has increased?

When it comes to formal jobs, reports say that around 6 crore new EPFO subscribers have been added. Each of these is not just a number -- it is a dream of a youth being fulfilled in terms of career growth. Over the last 10 years, the number of colleges, universities, IITs, IIMs, AIIMS, etc., have grown exponentially. Such a big addition of social infrastructure can only happen along with the creation of jobs.

You talk about MUDRA Yojana. But what did your government do for the youth who become entrepreneurs?

It is good that you asked about MUDRA Yojana. When it comes to encouraging entrepreneurship, the MUDRA Yojana gave rise to 8 crore new, first time entrepreneurs. While this is already crores of self-employed youth, many of these entrepreneurs would also be employing more people. Now we have promised that we will double the amount of MUDRA loans -- this again will surely be reflected in the jobs that are created in the coming years.

Which new areas are you focussing on?

This is a very important question. To ensure job creation even in the future, we are already taking many steps. We opened the space and atomic sectors for the youth of India. Similarly, we also liberalised drone and mapping sectors. Enterprising youth are already capitalising on this and creating startups in these sectors, adding more jobs into the economy. Moreover, we are working on creating new capabilities in a number of sunrise sectors. Climate-friendly energy generation is becoming an important part of the economy. Sectors such as green hydrogen, renewable energy such as solar, wind, etc., are going to create many green jobs.

Artificial Intelligence is a topic of discussion worldwide. What is India's position in this sector?

There is a curiosity over Artificial Intelligence. We are giving a big thrust on sectors such as Artificial Intelligence and gaming. These are the opportunities of the future, which also make the future. Our talented youth are best placed to make the best of such sectors.India is taking important steps in electronics manufacturing and especially semiconductors. These are important sectors not only for job creation but also for our self-reliance in the future. So, our vision for the future is clear and involves many exciting avenues for our youth.

Maharashtra gave you 41 seats last time. What is your expectation from Maharashtra this time?

The people of Maharashtra have been greatly supportive of the NDA's development-oriented vision. I am deeply grateful to them for their blessings and have worked to uphold the faith of the people in the form of initiatives that further the welfare of the people. The inauguration of Latur-based Marathwada Rail Coach Factory, a wagon repair workshop at Badnera and Vande Bharat chair car maintenance-cum-workshop depot in Pune are creating jobs for the youth while also making the country self-reliant. The Atal Setu, one of India's longest sea bridges, was finally delivered, and the people appreciate the efforts put into boosting Ease of Living

The opposition criticises you. There are many parties in Maharashtra at present. So why do you think people will vote for your party?

We launched several welfare schemes for the people and also implemented them successfully. We have ensured free healthcare benefits through Ayushman Bharat, access to affordable medicines through Jan Aushadhi, homes under PM Awas Yojana, clean drinking water through Jal Jeevan Mission, direct income support to farmers through PM Kisan scheme and much more.

Congress alleges that a division is being created in the country?

We have done several commendable works. On the other side we have the INDI Alliance which is completely bereft of any constructive ideas and is only looking at ways to divide, discriminate against and loot people. They have gone to dangerous lengths in their appeasement politics, so much so that they are even looking to take away the constitutional rights of SC, ST and OBC communities for their vote banks. People know that our vision is Viksit Bharat. You tell me, is even a single party of the INDI Alliance speaking of creating a Viksit Bharat?

You always say the opposition does not have a PM candidate...

Our alliance has a clear Prime Ministerial candidate. Does anyone know who is the leader of the INDI Alliance? I am confident the people of Maharashtra do not want to put the future of our country in the hands of an unknown, untested person, or maybe even persons!

Politics and family are different. You are the elder one. Did you not realise that joining hands with Ajit Pawar will split his family? Did you ever have a discussion with Sharad Pawar to be an ally of BJP?

Sharad Pawar is a very senior and experienced leader. Moreover, whatever has happened within the NCP or within their family is something that only they can tell. However, the NDA has always been open to anyone who believes in putting the nation first and pursuing development-oriented politics. Whether it is Ajit Pawar or Eknath Shinde, they have come to the NDA because they were tired of the Opposition's negative politics and believe that our nation is progressing in the right direction.

Sharad Pawar has said that smaller parties would merge with Congress in future. What is your view on it?

I was surprised to hear about Sharad Pawar saying that small parties should merge with the Congress in the future. Is this an indication of the result of the elections in Baramati? Or is it nervousness about the way the whole state is voting? Otherwise, why would Sharad Pawar, who once walked out of the Congress and formed his own party, now think of merging his party into the same Congress again?

Uddhav Thackeray has said he does not need fake affection. So a straight question: Will the BJP and Thackeray ever come together again?

I have great respect for Balasaheb Thackeray and we are the ones working to take his legacy forward. He is one of the most important and influential leaders in the history of our country. Throughout his life, Balasaheb stood for politics that furthered national interest and was against appeasement politics. I have also maintained decorum and dignity with every member of Balasaheb's family, irrespective of the political dynamics. But as an admirer of Balasaheb, I am pained by certain things. Today, it pains every admirer of Balasaheb, including me, to see the actions of those who claim to be torchbearers of his legacy. Mumbai and its people were so close to Balasaheb's heart. What would he have felt if he would have seen these people using those convicted in Mumbai bomb blasts for their campaigning? What would he have felt about these people allying with those who openly say they want to destroy Sanatan Dharma? What would Balasaheb have felt looking at these people aligning with those who celebrate Aurangzeb and abuse Savarkar. Can anyone claim to be upholding the legacy of Balasaheb after doing such things? Balasaheb always put principles above power. But now, it seems, power is everything for these people.

Devendra Fadnavis was a little disappointed after Eknath Shinde was anointed as the chief minister. He accepted the post of deputy chief minister following your intervention. What is your future plan for him?

The BJP is a cadre-based party where workers come together due to a shared commitment for national interest and people's welfare. So, the first identity of everybody in our party is that of a 'karyakarta' who is willing to do any work that the party asks him to. Even recently, you saw in many states that many tall leaders who have led some states for a long time took up different roles because the party wanted it.

Devendra Fadnavis as a 'karyakarta' of the BJP, took up the role of chief minister when the party wanted him to do so. He served the people of Maharashtra in an excellent way. In many decades of Maharashtra's political history, Devendra Fadnavis is the only chief minister to have completed the term of 5 years. And during those 5 years, the state witnessed growth in all sectors. Now, when the party asked him to contribute in a different role, he is doing so with his heart and soul. This is the culture of the BJP. Devendra Fadnavis' primary goal has always been to ensure good governance in Maharashtra, irrespective of the position he holds. Whether as CM or deputy CM, he has been successful in ensuring good governance in the state.

The BJP got less number of seats in Maharashtra due to Eknath Shinde and Ajit Pawar. Did it hurt the sentiments of loyal BJP workers aspiring to contest the election?

The BJP has always believed in accommodating alliance partners. This is the reason that NDA is one of the longest standing alliances in the history of Indian politics. We believe that our alliance partners help represent the diversity of aspirations in our democracy and therefore, we go out of our way to ensure that they also feel adequately represented. This is something that our 'karyakartas' understand as well. Therefore, when we sat down with our partners to discuss seat sharing arrangement, it was about what could benefit the state and the country, and that is how our alliance works.

Sharad Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray claim their party is real...

When you look at the picture in Maharashtra, there is one more thing that comes out clearly. It is clear that the actual NCP and Shiv Sena of Balasaheb are with the BJP. Yet, there may be political leaders on the other side who try to create undue confusion. But when it comes to the way BJP is perceived, there is absolute clarity -- this will also improve our strike rate in the seats we are fighting and work out as an advantage the BJP brings to our alliance.

The Opposition thinks that Mahayuti will not last for long!

Despite having sufficient numbers on our own both in 2014 and 2019, we have made our alliance partners part of the government at the Centre. Look at the example of Maharashtra itself. We are the single largest party but the CM is from Shiv Sena. This is our track record. This is in sharp contrast to the Congress, which has always believed in weakening their alliance partners even while they are with them. Even today, look at the INDI Alliance. The Congress' Shahzada is fighting against his own alliance partners in Kerala. His party is fighting against its own alliance partners in West Bengal. If one compares the dynamics within the NDA with the dynamics within the INDI Alliance, it is clear who can take everyone along and offer a strong, stable government.

People are asking that if the BJP was confident of victory, why did it join hands with Raj Thackeray?

I have already said that we welcome anyone who believes in putting nation first. In the last 10 years, we have had a majority on our own but we have always accepted new alliance partners. We see this as good for our democracy that more political parties can come together to work for the people. Raj Thackeray is not new to us. He had supported us earlier too. He believes we have done good work for the country. He also supports our ideology and vision for the future. We believe that he, too, can contribute to the betterment of Maharashtra. So, this coming together is neither about power nor political calculations. It is about working together to serve people. In fact, we welcome everyone who wants to work for the country to come with us.

You are seen targeting regional leaders in the election rallies these days whereas earlier, you would attack only national leaders?

If people analyse my speeches, they will find that I spend more time actually laying out facts about the good work we have done. First of all, I do not target any leader. I only raise questions about the actions and ideologies of political leaders. Secondly, this is a rather funny analysis that I do not think is rooted in facts. When I go to Telangana, I expose the misdeeds of the Congress and at the same time also make the people aware of the role of the BRS in changing Telangana for the worse. When I go to Tamil Nadu, I expose the misdeeds of the DMK as well as the Congress. Similarly, when I come to Maharashtra, I speak about the misdeeds of the 'Nakli Shiv Sena', 'Nakli Rahstrawadis' and the Congress.

Who do you target in your rallies?

Across the nation, one party and its misdeeds are common. That is Congress. Because, it is clear that they are at the root of most of India's current problems and they are also a magnet for all such forces that want to keep India backward. Why is the opposition raising only the issue of reservation?After 2014, people in India have realised one simple thing. That our 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' mantra has brought everyone from every community together on the platform of development. We have served everyone through our approach, which is the antithesis of the discriminatory politics of the Congress and its friends.Congress knows it can no longer divide the voter using caste and creed. And that is why they see the need to create false fears around reservations. In fact, if anyone has committed a sin against reservations, it is the Congress which has taken away the rights of OBCs and given it to their vote banks.

What is the main difference between the outlook of BJP and Congress?

To understand the motives of the opposition, you will have to understand their politics. Before 2014, their politics was all about dividing the people on caste lines while consolidating some religious vote banks. Development was never their priority and that is precisely why our poor people, especially SC, ST and OBC communities, had to struggle for toilets, tap water connections and a roof over their head for over six decades. People want 'Vikas'. They are not willing to be tied down to this party or that party and are willing to go with anyone who works for them. Such politics naturally favours the BJP because we are focussed on development. So, we are also receiving the support of every community that Congress used to earlier exploit for votes. They are unnerved by this.

The issue of development dominated the first phase of Lok Sabha elections. So what happened later that issues like Hindu card, mangalsutra and Pakistan started dominating the campaigning?

I said earlier too, if you analyse my speeches, you will find that most of it is dedicated to the work that we have done. But the media is interested in the other parts and runs their headlines based on the part where I expose the evil designs of the Congress and INDI Alliance. But I want to ask you. If Congress puts it in their manifesto that they will survey the wealth of common people to snatch it away from them, is this something I should speak about or not? If people who have been influential ministers in Pakistan support the Congress party, should this be pointed out or not? If the Congress has unconstitutionally given reservations on the basis of religion, should this be spoken about or not?

You are consistently attacking Congress' manifesto...

You saw their manifesto which has dangerous ideas, you know their track record of appeasement, and you are seeing how the Congress' Shahzada is speaking like a Maoist ideologue. Is it not the duty of the media to point out the problems in this? The opposition is claiming that if the BJP comes to power, it will change the Constitution. Many senior BJP leaders including you have rejected this claim. But the opposition party is continuously raising this issue. Why so? First of all, we need to understand that whatever Modi is today, it is because of Babasaheb's Constitution. Without such an empowering Constitution and without democracy, someone like me could have never risen to the post of PM. So, even if you look at it from the lens of logic, it is in my own interest that our Constitution and democracy are kept safe, which I am doing.

But which is the only time that our Constitution and democracy were violated? It was under the Congress. If one speaks of dismissing state governments without any regard for democratic values or due process, the Congress party is the champion at it with nearly a 100 such instances in their name. People have not forgotten the history of the Congress. So, nobody is believing in the Congress party or INDI Alliance's propaganda against us in this regard.

While India is on the verge of becoming the third largest economic power in the world, it is still providing free grains to 80 crore people. What plan do you have to reduce this gap?

In the Parliament, I had spoken in detail about this topic. But for the benefit of your readers, let me explain it again. It is true that we will soon become the third largest economy in the world. It is also true that in the last 10 years, 25 crore people have come out of poverty. I have seen poverty from close quarters and know how it works. Even if you have managed to rise above poverty, without a safety net, even one harsh turn of fate is enough to push you back into it again. If you pay close attention to our welfare schemes, many of them focus on ensuring that people do not fall back into poverty. Take the Ayushman Bharat scheme for example. When a family that has just managed to come out of poverty faces a medical emergency, this scheme ensures that they get top quality treatment for free. Not only does this save a life but it also helps avoid financial burdens that push them back into poverty. Now, we have also said that this will be extended to every senior citizen above the age of 70. It will also help middle class families in the future.

Are people benefitting from the free foodgrain scheme?

The free foodgrain scheme is another such scheme which protects people who are poor from going hungry. At the same time, it also provides food security to those people who are just above the poverty line. These people need support not just to cross over from poverty but even beyond that. This free foodgrain scheme reduced the probability of people going hungry. Moreover, it also lowered the need to borrow money to keep the 'chulha' burning, which means it saved people from getting into debt traps just to avoid hunger. As more and more people move out of poverty, into the middle class and find a firm footing for their future, the demand for such a scheme will organically reduce.

Agriculture and cooperative sector are the two main identities of Maharashtra. But both these sectors are in crisis at present. What plan do you have for that?

The farmers of Maharashtra are hardworking and industrious. Yet, it is a tragedy that before 2014, subsequent governments greatly neglected the farmers of the state, despite the fact that one of the important leaders from Maharashtra was holding the important agriculture-related portfolio at the Centre for a long time. When we came to power in 2014, I asked for a list of irrigation projects that are stuck, so that they can be expedited. You would be surprised to know that among the 99 projects, a big chunk was from Maharashtra and some of them were stuck for decades, since even the 1970s! We have completed most of these stuck projects, started new projects and completed them too. Whenever I meet the farmers of Maharashtra, they tell me that PM-Kisan's direct income support and Fasal Bima Yojana's crop insurance at inexpensive rates are extremely beneficial. Further, we have also done a number of reforms in the sugarcane farming sector which is extremely important in Maharashtra. Today, almost all of the arrear payments for sugarcane farmers are cleared in quick time. We are building a new farming ecosystem based on farmers' interests. At the core of this is a focus on irrigation, insurance, access to markets abroad via exports, green initiatives like ethanol and many more.

Why was a separate ministry for cooperation set up?

As the chief minister, I had the opportunity of working closely with the cooperative model. Therefore, after becoming PM for the second term, I ensured that the power of cooperatives is tapped for national welfare and set up a separate ministry for it. We believe in the vision of 'Sahakar Se Samriddhi'. We launched a comprehensive national cooperatives database. Additionally, we initiated the digitisation of thousands of primary cooperative societies, district cooperative banks, and state cooperative banks, fostering greater accountability and transparency. We are establishing multipurpose cooperative societies in 10,000 villages, promising a significant boost to rural incomes. Long-standing Income Tax disputes haunting sugar cooperatives have been resolved, resulting in a substantial Rs 46,000 crore worth of benefit for them. The cooperative sector is very close to my heart and we will work for the welfare of Maharashtra's farmers with even greater momentum in the coming years.

Following is the clipping of the interview:

 

 

 

 Source: Lokmat

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Kargil
July 25, 2024
PM to carry out First Blast of the Strategic Shinkun La Tunnel Project
The project will provide all weather connectivity to Leh
On completion it will be the highest tunnel in the world

On the occasion of the 25th Kargil Vijay Diwas on 26th July 2024, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will visit the Kargil War Memorial at around 9:20 AM and pay homage to the bravehearts who made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty. Prime Minister will also carry out the first blast of the Shinkun La Tunnel Project, virtually.

Shinkun La Tunnel Project consists of a 4.1 km long Twin-Tube tunnel which will be constructed at an altitude of around 15,800 feet on the Nimu – Padum – Darcha Road to provide all weather connectivity to Leh. Once completed, it will be the highest tunnel in the world. Shinkun La tunnel will not only ensure swift and efficient movement of our armed forces and equipment but also foster economic and social development in Ladakh.