130 crore Indians working for a strong Aatmanirbhar Bharat: PM Modi

Published By : Admin | October 31, 2020 | 11:01 IST
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We all just listened to the vision-filled offering of the iron-man Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Before I speak, I would like to raise the slogan Bharat Mata ki jai. This is my request to all, including the jawans in uniforms and my tribal brothers and sisters living on the far away hills, to raise their one hand and raise the slogan Bharat Mata ki jai keeping Sardar Saheb in memories. I will administer this thrice—Bharat Mata ki jai for the heroic sons and daughters in police force, Bharat Mata ki jai for Corona warriors and Bharat Mata ki jai for crores of people who are involved in realizing the pledge of self-reliance. I will say Sardar Patel and you will say Long Live twice. Many many best wishes to all the countrymen for the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Sardar Patel gave India the present shape by unifying hundreds of princely states of the country and turning the diversity of the country as the power of independent India.

In 2014, we all had started to observe his birth anniversary as the country’s Ekta Diwas. In these six years, everybody in the country from villages to cities, from East to West, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari have made efforts to realize the resolve of ‘One India, Best India’. Today, once again, this country is offering floral tributes to the great son of Mother Bharti, the Iron Man. Once again, this country is reiterating the pledge for the progress of the country under the shadow of the skyscraper statue of Sardar Patel. Friends, I reached Kevadia yesterday itself. After reaching Kevadia, many new landmarks, including Jungle Safari Park, Ekta Mall, Children Nutrition Park and Arogya Van, have been inaugurated since yesterday. In a very short time, this magnificent building associated with Sardar Sarovar Dam has become a pilgrimage centre of new India's progress in the spirit of ‘One India, Best India’. In the coming time, this spot on the coast of Mother Narmada is going to mark its place on the tourism map of not only India, but the whole world.

Today, the sea-plane service between Sardar Sarovar and Sabarmati river front is also being inaugurated. This is the first and one of its kind sea-plane service in the country. The countrymen will now have the option of sea-plane service to visit the Statue of Unity of Sardar Saheb. All these steps are going to help in increasing tourism of the region. This is also generating new employment opportunities for local people and my tribal brothers and sisters. I congratulate the Gujarat government, all the people of Gujarat and all the 130 crore countrymen for these achievements.

Friends, I really felt proud when our daughters from nearby villages were guiding me with prompt answers to questions confidently when I was undertaking the visit of the region yesterday. The ability and competence of the tribal girls of my country was very overwhelming. I extend my heartiest congratulations to all my tribal daughters who have attained this excellence in such a short time by merging it with expertise and professionalism.

Friends, this is also a strange coincidence that today is also the birth anniversary of Maharishi Valmiki. Today, the cultural unity that we experience in India was made more vibrant and energetic centuries ago by Adikavi Maharishi Valmiki. A huge credit goes to Maharishi Valmiki ji if we are joined by the ideals of Lord Rama in every nook and corner of India. Maharishi Valmiki’s call for Nation First and his mantra ‘जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी’ (‘Mother and motherland are far superior to even the heaven’) is the strong foundation of the ‘India First’ pledge.

I extend my heartiest congratulations to all the countrymen on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Maharishi Valmiki. Friends, a great poet of Tamil language and freedom fighter Subramania Bharati had written -- मन्नुम इमयमलै एंगल मलैये,मानिल मीधु इधु पोल पिरिधु इल्लैये, इन्नरु नीर गंगै आरेंगल आरे इ॑गिथन मान्बिर एधिरेधु वेरे, पन्नरुम उपनिट नूलेन्गल नूले पार मिसै एधोरु नूल इधु पोले, पोननोलिर भारत नाडेंगल नाडे पोट रुवोम इग्तै एमक्किल्लै ईडे -- the Hindi meaning of this poem of Subramania Bharati, which describes the far flung areas, is also very motivational.

सुब्रह्मणियम भारती जी ने जिस भाव को प्रकट किया है, दुनिया की सबसे पुरातन भाषा तमिल भाषा में किया है। और क्या अद्भूत मां भारती का वर्णन किया है। सुब्रह्मणियम भारती जी के उस कविता के भाव हैं, चमक रहा उत्तुंग हिमालय, यह नगराज हमारा ही है। जोड़ नहीं धरती पर जिसका, वह नगराज हमारा ही है। नदी हमारी ही है गंगा, प्लावित करती मधुरस धारा, बहती है क्या कहीं और भी, ऐसी पावन कल-कल धारा? सम्मानित जो सफल विश्व में, महिमा जिनकी बहुत रही है अमर ग्रन्थ वे सभी हमारे, उपनिषदों का देश यही है। गाएँगे यश हम सब इसका, यह है स्वर्णिम देश हमारा, आगे कौन जगत में हमसे, गुलामी के कालखंड में भी, सुब्रह्मणियम भारती जी का विश्वास देखिए, वो भाव प्रकट करते हैं, आगे कौन जगत में हमसे, यह है भारत देश हमारा”।

The spirit with which Subramania Bharati has expressed the description of Mother Bharati in the world’s oldest Tamil language is very spectacular. This is the expression of that poem of Subramania Bharati:

The eternal Himalaya is our very own asset.

There's nothing else to equal it as yet!

The sweetly nourishing Ganges flows here dancing.

Is there a river on earth so entrancing?

The expository Upanishads are our prized treasure

The entire world doesn't have any work of that measure.

Oh, the Golden Bharat is verily our own land

Hail our land, we are of a matchless brand!!


We can feel this spectacular expression for India very closely on the banks of the Mother Narmada and under the shadow of the splendid statue of Sardar Saheb. This strength of India teaches us to fight and conquer every adversity, every problem. You see, when we had participated in the Ekta Run on this day last year, nobody had imagined that the entire humankind of the world will have to face this pandemic. This disaster came all of a sudden. It has affected the human life all over the world and our progress. But the way the 130 crore countrymen have proved their collective strength and the will in the face of this epidemic is unprecedented. There is no precedent of this in history.

The message of unity, which the 130 crore countrymen have shown from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Leh to Lakshadweep, from Atak to Cuttack, from Kutch to Kohima, from Tripura to Somnath has given us the strength to fight this pandemic for eight months and move forward on the path of victory. The country lit the lamps and expressed its gratitude for their honour. Many Corona warriors, including several of our promising colleagues in police sacrificed their lives to save the lives of others. Sacrificing life for human service has been the hallmark of the police force of this country after Independence. About 35,000 jawans of my police force have sacrificed their lives since Independence. But many jawans in the police force sacrificed their life for the service of others during this Corona period. History will never be able to forget this golden period and will motivate not only the police personnel but the 130 crore countrymen to bow in respect to this self-less service of police personnel.

Friends, It was the strength of the unity of the country that India has firmly fought the pandemic that has handicapped the big countries of the world. Today, the country is not only emerging from the Corona but is moving ahead together. This is the same unity which was imagined by Iron Man Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. This unity of ours during this period of Corona is a true tribute to Iron Man Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

Friends, even in the midst of adversities and challenges, the country has accomplished many tasks which were considered to be impossible. Kashmir completed one year of inclusion after the withdrawal of Article 370 during this difficult period. It was a year ago on 31st of October that it was made operational. Had Sardar Saheb been given this responsibility along with unifying other princely states when he was alive, I would not have to do this after so many years of independence. But Sardar Saheb’s this work has remained incomplete, but the 130 crore countrymen have been fortunate in accomplishing this task with his inspiration. Kashmir has now moved on a new path of development, leaving behind the obstacles that were coming in its development. The country is establishing new dimensions of unity by establishing peace in the Northeast and the initiatives taken for its development. The country has also seen the spread of the yagya that was started by Sardar Patel to restore India’s cultural glory through the reconstruction of Somnath in Ayodhya. Today, the country has become witness to the Supreme Court verdict on Ram Temple and is witnessing the construction of the majestic Ram Temple as well.

Friends, today, 130 crore countrymen together are building a nation that is both strong and capable, in which there should be equality and opportunities as well. Sardar Saheb also used to say and these are the words of Sardar Saheb that “farmers and workers are the foundation of the world. I think how I can not let the farmers remain poor and weakened; how I can make them empowered so that they can walk with their heads high”.

Friends, farmers, workers and the poor will become empowered when they become self-reliant. This was the dream of Sardar Saheb and he used to say that farmers, workers and the poor will become empowered when they will become self-reliant. And when the farmers and workers become self-reliant, only then the country will become self-reliant. Friends, only a self-sufficient country can be confident of its progress as well as its security. And, therefore, the country is moving towards becoming self-sufficient in the field of defense as well. Not only this, India’s perspective and attitudes towards borders have also changed. Today our brave soldiers have the guts to give a befitting reply to those eyeing the land of India. Today’s India is constructing hundreds of kilometer of long roads, dozens of bridges and many tunnels along the borders. Today's India is fully prepared and committed to protect its sovereignty and dignity.

But friends, amidst these efforts of progress, there are many challenges which India and the whole world are facing today. The situation that has been created in many countries of the world for some time … the way some people have come out openly in support of terrorism is a matter of global concern for humanity, for the world and for peace lovers. In this prevailing atmosphere, there is an urgent need for all the countries of the world, all governments, all religions, to unite against terrorism. A sense of peace, brotherhood and mutual respect is the true identity of humanity. Peace, unity and harmony are its way. Nobody can benefit from terrorism and violence. India has been a victim of terrorism for the last several decades. India has lost thousands of its brave soldiers, thousands of its innocent citizens, many mothers have lost their sons and many sisters have lost their brothers. India fully understands the pain of terrorism. India has always responded to terrorism with unity and strong will. Today, the entire world has to defeat each of those powers which are with terrorism and which encourage terrorism collectively.

Friends, India has always given prominence to the ideas of unity. We are the people who have drawn inspiration from ‘‘सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः’’ (“May all be prosperous and happy”). We are the people who have absorbed ‘‘वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम’’ (“World is a family”). These are our principles of life. From Lord Buddha to Mahatma Gandhi, India has given the message of peace and unity to the entire world. Friends, national poet Ramdhari Singh Dinkar ji has written: "India is an idea, bringing heaven to earth. India is an expression which awakens people.” The existence of our country is through our thoughts, our feelings, our consciousnesses and our efforts. The diversity of India is its biggest strength. It is very difficult to find so many dialects, languages, different kinds of apparel, eating habits, customs, beliefs, in any other country. It is also written in our Vedas -- जनं बिभ्रति बहुधा विवाचसं नानाधर्माणं पृथ्वीवी यथौकसम्। सहस्त्रं धारा द्रविणस्य में दुहां ध्रुवेव धेनुरन-पस्फुरन्ति। That is, our motherland holds people with different languages, different ethics, thoughts, behaviours, like a family. Therefore, our diversity is our identity. This is our duty towards our nation to keep alive this unity despite the diversity. We have to remember that we are invincible if we are united. We are extraordinary if we are united. We are unique if we are united. But friends, we have to remember that our unity and strength does not go down well with others. They want to make this diversity our weakness. They want to create division between each other on the basis of this diversity. It is very necessary to recognize these forces and every Indian has to remain alert of such forces.

Friends, I had another picture in my mind while I was watching the parade of paramilitary forces today, looking at your amazing skills. This was the picture of the Pulwama attack. Our brave soldiers who were martyred in that attack belonged to the paramilitary forces. The nation cannot forget that when the entire country was saddened by the loss of its brave sons, then some people were not affected by that misery. They were looking for their political gains in the Pulwama attack. The country can never forget the irresponsible statements. The country cannot forget the extreme of the ugly politics of selfishness and arrogance when the country was badly wounded. And at that time, looking at those heroes, I kept on listening to those allegations by keeping myself away from those controversies. My heart was badly wounded due to the martyred soldiers. But the statements that have come from our neighbouring country recently, the fact that was admitted in their parliament, have unmasked the real faces of these people. The politics done after the Pulwama attack is a very big example how low these people can stoop to further their political interests. I will make a special request to these people and political parties in front of this giant statue of this great man that please don’t do such politics, desist from it in the interest of the country’s security and the morale of our security forces. You will not be able to do any good to the country or to your party by playing into the hands of anti-national forces for your selfishness knowingly or unknowingly.

Friends, we have to always keep this in our mind that the country’s interest should be the highest interest for all of us. When we will think of everyone's interests, only then will we progress. Brothers and sisters, today is the occasion to reiterate the same pledge which was envisioned by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. An India that will be empowered, prosperous and self-reliant. Let us reiterate our dedication to the nation on this auspicious occasion. Let us take the pledge to enhance the pride and glory of the country and take the country to new heights by bowing before Sardar Patel.

With this pledge, I extend my best wishes to all the countrymen on the occasion of Ekta Diwas. I conclude by offering my respectful tributes to Sardar Saheb and greeting the countrymen on Valmiki Jayanti and the birth anniversary of Sardar Saheb.

Many many thanks!

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April 21, 2024

You are already preparing a road map for India. What are the lessons you have picked from the last 10 years of governance to shape Amrit Kaal 2047? What will be the first five initiatives, especially focussed on Young India?

I would like to correct you here.

My experience as head of government spans 23 years. I have had the unique honor of serving for 13 years as the CM and 10 years as the PM. These 23 years have been a learning experience, and people have taught me a lot. One key learning that I have utilized in Gujarat as well as India is trusting people and making them partners. In Gujarat, I worked on increasing female literacy and decreasing school dropouts by making this a mass movement.

At the national level, be it the Swachh Bharat Movement, Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, or Digital Transactions, change was achieved through people-led mass movements. For a long time under the Congress, youth was stymied and not allowed to achieve its full potential. Corruption and nepotism hurt the youth badly. It is my conviction that Viksit Bharat can only be achieved by the power of our youth. We have several initiatives focused on them. In our Sankalp Patra, we’ve outlined how we’re going to strengthen Young India.

In education, we have a qualitative as well as a quantitative change. The NEP revolutionizes education and helps our youth excel in their strengths. In the last 10 years, we’ve built many higher education institutes and will continue to do so in our third term as well. From 2014 to 2024, the pace of growth was remarkable, with more than two colleges opening every day, and one university opening every week. In the last 10 years, we have built 7 new IITs, 7 new IIMs, and 15 new AIIMS.

Record investment is happening in India in manufacturing and infrastructure. This is creating numerous opportunities for the youth. Start-ups will flourish through multiple new avenues as well as access to credit.

We will focus on increasing our tourism, by augmenting the infrastructure at our cultural and other natural landmarks. This will create new opportunities for the youth. The loan amount under PM MUDRA Yojna will be doubled to ₹20 Lakh to encourage small and medium businesses by the youth.

The 21st century is not just India's century, it is also the century of India's youth. To fulfill the aspirations of our youth, we need to make big, positive changes. We are laser-focused on our goal for Viksit Bharat and are working 24x7 for 2047.

You have emphasized technology, A-I, tourism, and health among the top priority areas. How do you plan to connect these dreams with the youth energy of our country?

Today, if India has an advantage in the world, it is because of its Yuva Shakti. Everywhere you look, youngsters are eager to make a difference.

Our smart, young minds are exploring and expanding AI’s possibilities every day. To encourage this, our government’s policies and programs are guided by the motto of ‘AI for All’. We encourage our youth to take giant leaps to ‘solve for India’ using technology and AI. To give you an example, we ask ministries to list down problem areas where they need solutions. Then we compile all such problems and present them to our youth in the form of hackathons. I make sure to participate in these hackathons. Our youth deliver and come up with solutions to all the problems presented to them.

When it comes to health, in the last 10 years, the number of medical colleges in India has increased from 387 before 2014 to 706 as of now. MBBS seats have increased from 51,348 before 2014 to 1,08,940 at present. PG seats have increased from 31,185 before 2014 to 70,645 currently. This means more and more of our Yuva Shakti are becoming doctors and healthcare professionals, which will increase the affordability and accessibility of healthcare.

In the last 10 years, tourism in India has increased significantly. Tourism greatly impacts the local economy as many people across the value chain earn through it. We have focused on ensuring that our tourism sites have good infrastructure.

Kerala has all forms of attractions to draw tourists, from mountains to backwaters, and from heritage to wellness. We aim to make Kerala one of the biggest hubs of tourism. Our Sankalp Patra places special emphasis on further developing our cultural and religious destinations. We will strengthen the Swadesh Darshan program and develop various thematic tourism circuits, including riverine tourism. These initiatives will lead to huge gains for Kerala and augur well for the common man.

You have given the Niti Aayog and other agencies a new template of development which originates from your vision. What are the thoughts that prompt your initiatives?

As someone who has also served as a Chief Minister, I understand how important it is to involve states in the nation-building process. That is exactly what NITI Aayog does: it consults with and works directly with states.

The problem with the Planning Commission was that it employed a 'one-size-fits-all' approach for all states. It did not create plans that were tailored to the specific wants and needs of each state and functioned in a top-down fashion. Funds would often be allocated for one purpose, but the needs of the states would be completely different. There was no flexibility given to states to decide their own set of priorities. Unsurprisingly, many of its plans failed to show tangible results.

The NITI Aayog follows a pro-people, proactive, and participative development agenda. Take the example of the Aspirational Districts Program. The Central Government is working together not only with the State Governments but also with local administrations to bring about change in the lives of people.

Similarly, NITI Aayog is at the center of preparing the roadmap for 2047. Through NITI Aayog, we have reached out to people across the country and received feedback from around 15 lakh people.

Like never before, you are personally leading the fight in Kerala, where the RSS has a tremendous presence. But BJP has not been able to make much political mileage out of this. How do you see this? And how will the scenario change this time?Congress has high hopes from the South especially Kerala. What do you feel?

Karyakartas of the BJP and aligned organizations have been working on the ground for a long time. Be it a social cause or a natural calamity, they are always visible serving the people. In the 2021 Assembly Elections, our vote share rose significantly. This is because the youth of Kerala, the women of Kerala, the poor people of Kerala, and the farmers of Kerala are now starting to see the BJP as a ray of hope. They view the BJP and the NDA as entities that can fulfill their aspirations.

The UDF and LDF have only taken Kerala backward; they have never moved Kerala forward. So yes, the situation is changing, and the scenario is set to change even further. The 2021 results revealed what lies ahead. The BJP is expected to grow even more in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, and we are confident that in time, the BJP will have MPs from Kerala and will also eventually form the state government.

Talking about the Congress, in 2019, sensing a defeat in UP, the Yuvraj ran away to contest the elections in Kerala. Over the last 5 years, even the people of Kerala have realized that they have no vision, no governance agenda, and have put in no efforts for the people. But this time, they know that the people of Kerala are also going to reject them. The results of Wayanad will be announced even before the results of the entire country. As soon as the polling in Kerala is over, the Yuvraj will file a nomination from another seat, so confident are they of their defeat.

Youngsters in Kerala are migrating outside the state for education and professional reasons. Across South India, something seems to be lacking for the youth. What is your vision for South India, focusing on skill and technical exposure?

It is unfortunate that the youth of Kerala have been forced to move out of their home state in search of better opportunities. The LDF and UDF governments have repeatedly and willfully ignored the need to develop industries and jobs that create employment in the state.

On the other hand, our Central Government is working towards making the youth future-ready, equipping them with next-generation skills, and creating opportunities for them within the state itself. We have established more than 370 Atal Tinkering Labs in the state to catalyze innovation among the young. Under the MUDRA Yojana, we have enabled the disbursal of collateral-free loans worth 1 lakh crore to the youth of Kerala.

Did you know that in the last 10 years, India has launched over 400 satellites from various countries and earned more than Rs 4000 crores from it? Kerala, home to many ISRO research and launch sites, along with Start-Up India, will ensure a network of indigenous startups and industries focused on space science and defense emerges in Kerala. It is in this context that I inaugurated the country's first Digital Science Park in Thiruvananthapuram to transform Kerala into a knowledge-based economy.

We have also invested lakhs of crores to improve infrastructure in the state, including the upgrading of Kochi harbor, widening of NH-66 to improve connectivity, doubling of railway tracks, and expanding the Kochi Metro. All these initiatives are giving a significant boost to employment opportunities in the state.

The other day, you took on CPM and its leaders by flagging the Karuvannur bank scam and alleged corruption involving the CM's daughter. But CPM is alleging that the Central Government is trying to kill co-operative banks in Kerala through these measures. Your views, please.

First and foremost, I do not believe in the use of the word "killing." If there is any party that indulges in rampant political violence and the killing of opponents, it is the CPM. Therefore, I will not dignify any usage of that term.

Moving on to your question—the fact of the matter is that the LDF in Kerala has transformed into everything we associate with the Congress Party—dynasty politics, corruption, and so on. Regarding the cooperative scam, I have spoken about this on many occasions and I have assured you that those guilty of the scam will not be spared. It is disheartening to see that thousands of poor people have been stripped of their hard-earned money, leaving them in a miserable situation.

The cooperative sector is a very important one, directly linked to empowering people in villages, and empowering women. It is a pity that the CPM has used the cooperative sector to enrich a few leaders.

How do you see the rivalry of the Left & Congress in Kerala? How do you respond to Rahul Gandhi’s statement that Pinarayi Vijayan must be sent to jail?

The Congress and the Left are two sides of the same coin. In Kerala, they engage in a friendly fight, while in Delhi, they are partners. In Kerala, the Congress' Yuvraj wants to put Pinarayi Vijayan in jail, yet in Delhi, they unite to protest action against corruption.

The Congress' approach to corruption is selective. They have no issue with corruption itself; they only use it as a tool to attack those they dislike. I have been constantly and aggressively exposing Pinarayi Vijayan, yet the Congress and its Yuvraj have remained silent throughout.

I spoke about the deal between the Chief Minister and his daughter with CMRL; the Yuvraj was silent. In the gold smuggling case, I raised the issue of links between the Chief Minister's office and the smuggling racket; the Yuvraj was silent. I exposed the looting by CPM-run cooperative banks and promised to return the money to the common people, even considering the attachment of properties of those involved; once again, the Yuvraj was silent.

You and your party are aiming for more than 400 seats. Most of the 303 seats won in 2019 were from North India. But South India seems to be a difficult terrain for the BJP. Do you think this time you can break the pattern of electoral behavior of the region? Congress has high hopes from the South. What do you feel?

Your question is not factually correct. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP was the single largest party in Southern India. Until recently, we had a government in Karnataka. We are a part of the government in Puducherry. We have always been an important force in Telangana. Therefore, I do not agree with the binary view that the BJP lacks a presence in the South. This narrative suits the perspective of a few political analysts, but the facts tell a different story.

You may also know that three of our party presidents have come from South India. In 1984, when we were reduced to only two seats, one of them was from Southern India. Thus, the BJP has a very close link with the South.

Looking at the present, I have been traveling across Southern India, and the response wherever I have gone has been phenomenal. I am confident that South India will bless the BJP in record numbers this time.

Opposition’s narrative on the strong divide between South India and North India is quite intense. They say the South is largely ignored by Modi Govt., especially on financial issues. Kerala Govt has approached the Supreme Court for permission to take loans. How do you plan to reach out to the South Indians?

This narrative of dividing India into north and south propagated by the opposition is utterly shameful, and I categorically reject it. Indians from across South India have also firmly rejected this charge. Both the UDF and LDF aim to divide India along the lines of caste, creed, state, and religion to confuse the voters and cling to power. Despite this, Kerala, with its abundant resources and excellent human capital, is an equal partner in India’s development. We are committed to powering Kerala on its path to development. Unfortunately, both UDF and LDF have perpetuated a culture of misgovernance in the state and have failed to take meaningful steps toward improving and diversifying Kerala’s economy.

This mismanagement has resulted in debt reaching alarming levels, forcing the Kerala government to borrow money even to pay its employees! Instead of utilizing funds for constructing infrastructure, which would create more jobs, the government is focused on spending money on hiring more personal staff for its ministers and paying them lifetime pensions. Meanwhile, they make PSC rank holders wait for years for offer letters because they do not have the capacity to pay these meritorious youth.

However, this has not stopped my government from supporting the Kerala government in every way possible. Under my administration, tax devolution to Kerala has substantially increased from just Rs 46,000 crore under the UPA to more than Rs 1.55 lakh crore under the BJP. This shows our commitment to Kerala.

During the pandemic, we provided an additional borrowing of Rs 18,000 crores, and recently, we provided an additional Rs 13,000 crores to help manage the immediate crisis. Even the Supreme Court has highlighted their misgovernance and financial mismanagement. It is high time those in power realize that instead of creating divisions and distractions, they should focus on governance.

I maintain direct and daily contact with the people and our Karyakartas in the South, and I am grateful that they consider me part of their family too. The response I received during public meetings and road shows, with thousands coming out to support the BJP, is ample proof that the manufactured North-South divide is completely artificial and has no basis on the ground.

Anyone who believes there is a North-South divide is not fully acquainted with the reality of India as a nation, and more importantly, as a civilization that is thousands of years old. The North-South divide theory originates from the political desperation of the opposition, not from reality. Yes, we are diverse and even different in some cultural aspects, but that does not mean we are divergent. We are diverse, not divergent

Bishops and senior pontiffs have met you many times. But the church leaders continue to raise their apprehensions from time to time. How can BJP win their total confidence?

The BJP has established a very close relationship with the Christian community. We have been in government in Goa since 2012, and are also part of the ruling coalitions in Meghalaya and Nagaland, where there is a significant Christian population. As such, the Christian community is well aware of the good work that BJP governments, both at the Centre and in the states, are doing.

I have been interacting with leaders from the Christian community even before I became Prime Minister, and these exchanges have always been very fruitful. Regarding any apprehensions, it's important to recognize that everyone has the right to express concerns when they feel a situation needs attention. We, as the government, are committed to addressing any apprehensions or grievances.

The reality is that the Christian community is fed up with both the LDF and the UDF. These alliances have failed the Christian community because their politics of vote banking do not support the empowerment of the community. Christians have realized this, and as a result, they are now voting for the BJP in large numbers.

You have strengthened our relations with the Gulf. As a result, we even have a Hindu Temple in UAE. Across the Muslim world, you are hailed as a global leader. What message does this give the Indian Muslims?

For decades, our foreign policy was managed without prioritizing our diaspora. One significant change we implemented after coming to power was to recognize that looking after our diaspora’s goodwill is an integral part of foreign policy.

Consider the example of the Gulf countries, where lakhs of our citizens reside. For decades, our governments did not engage with these countries as they should have, seeing them only from the perspective of our neighbor. They viewed the Gulf solely as a venue to export manpower and import fuel products, without investing in deeper relations.

You might be surprised to know that I was the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the UAE in three decades! Before my visit, there had only been two such prime ministerial visits to Saudi Arabia.

Today, our people residing in the Gulf countries feel there is someone back home they can count on. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I regularly spoke with governments in the Gulf, and they assured me that they would take care of Indians as their own. I also requested the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia to increase the Haj quota for Indians.

The strong relationships we have cultivated over time proved crucial in times of crisis. In 2015, when thousands of Indians were stuck in Yemen amidst the bombing, I personally spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia. Bombing was halted daily for a few hours to allow safe passage for our people. During the 2023 Sudan crisis, we worked closely with Saudi Arabia to ensure safe passage for our citizens caught in a war-like situation.

Recently, we brought back 8 Navy veterans from Qatar who were facing death sentences. The entire nation rejoiced.

When our citizens see the results of our improved relations, they naturally feel proud and more secure. This demonstrates that the Modi Government cares for its people, whether Hindu, Muslim, or Christian.

Kashmir is today near normal. But there have been sporadic attacks. Pakistan-based groups still trouble us. Can we feel confident that all such menaces will end in the Modi 3.0 era?

It's undeniable that Kashmir has made significant strides towards normalcy recently. Since the abrogation of Article 370, we've seen a remarkable decline in terror incidents and casualties, demonstrating our government's steadfast commitment to eradicating terrorism.

Historical traditions are being revived; Muharram processions in Srinagar proceeded through the traditional route for the first time in 34 years, and Diwali was celebrated at the Sharda Temple for the first time since the partition in 1947.

From 2004 to 2014, over 7,000 terror incidents claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 security personnel and civilians. In contrast, under the BJP’s leadership in the past decade, there has been a 70% reduction in terror incidents. In 2010, during UPA rule, the region witnessed over 2,600 incidents of organized stone pelting. Fast forward to 2023, four years after the abrogation of Article 370, and not a single such incident has occurred.

Tourism in Kashmir is experiencing a remarkable surge, with visitor numbers reaching record levels since our independence in 1947. This influx not only bolsters the local economy but also promotes cross-cultural exchange and appreciation, fostering greater understanding and harmony.

The youth of Kashmir are being empowered like never before, with abundant opportunities in sports, entrepreneurship, and academia. Young Kashmiris are harnessing their talents and capabilities to forge a brighter future. The recent success of several candidates from Jammu and Kashmir in the Civil Services examination is a testament to the region's rising potential and the government's commitment to nurturing talent.

In our next term, we will continue to build on these developments with even more vigor so that the fruits of growing opportunities in the rest of India also reach our citizens in Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Somewhere during this campaign, there is an increasing portrayal of elections 2024 as a fight to protect Sanatana Dharma from its vehement critics. Will this redefine democratic exercise totally?

As India experiences a resurgence of its cultural and civilizational heritage, the Congress party and its allies seem to be grappling with a sense of unease. In recent months, we have witnessed INDI Alliance partners liken Sanatan Dharma to diseases like dengue and malaria. This depth of discomfort reveals their animosity, resentment, and shallow understanding of Sanatan values. It is ironic that a party that once prided itself on embodying Mahatma Gandhi's ideals now aligns with those who call for the eradication of Sanatan Dharma.

Today, Congress finds itself at odds with the very essence of India's millennia-old identity. They deny the existence of Bhagwan Ram, reject invitations to the Pran Prathishtha of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, mock Dwarkadhish, and vow to oppose Shakti.

As a proud son of Bharat, I rejoice in our timeless traditions. It was our party that ensured the historic Sengol is placed in our temple of democracy. Our government has helped the ancient science of Yoga gain global appreciation and ensured that Shri Anna—or millets, once a staple in every home in Kerala—receives global recognition. These achievements are witnessed, experienced, and appreciated by the people of our country.

For us, these aspects are not related to elections; they are part of who we are. The initiatives I mentioned were implemented well before election period.

The people of our country are no longer willing to tolerate disrespect toward their ancient culture and vibrant traditions; instead, they take pride in them. The people are also questioning these leaders on matters of governance, delivery, and policies. In their frantic attempts to divert public attention from their continuous failures, these leaders resort to making hateful statements.

You have not taken a day off in the last 10 years and more. Please take us through a day-in-the-life of Modiji? Your favourite food, especially South Indian cuisine?

In the last 10 years, the work we have done is just the trailer of what is to come. I genuinely feel that there's so much more to do, and I don't want to spend even a single moment of my life not devoted to serving the nation. I consider myself to be working for my family of 1.4 billion Indians. This emotional connection with them continues to drive me every day.

I spent many years in spiritual pursuit during my younger years. Since then, I've maintained the habit of waking up during Brahma Muhurat. I start my day early, dedicating time to yoga and exercise. Afterward, I catch up on the day’s news and happenings. I also take time to call friends, karyakartas, and acquaintances, and return phone calls. My official engagements begin at 9 AM and often extend late into the night. My day is filled with meetings, presentations, and events. I normally like simple food and don’t have strong likes or dislikes when it comes to food.

Source: Mathrubhumi