Modi amidst controversies...
Narendra Modi has, after all, given an interview, the first after the BJP declared him as the party’s prime ministerial candidate. Notably, he preferred to give his interview to a little known Hindi channel, ETV, in which he talked on a variety of subjects but did not touch upon any of the controversial issues, like 2002 Godhra riots, if he would tender an apology for the riots, his attitude towards minorities, the question of sidelining of veteran L K Advani and expulsion of senior leader, Jaswant Singh. One does not know, if it was purposely or otherwise, the contentious questions were not put to him by the interviewer, Harishankar Vyas, editor of Naya India, considered pro-Modi.
Strangely, no newspaper, either English or Hindi, reproduced the interview of the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate; nor any TV channel took note of his interaction with ETV while, in sharp contrast, Rahul Gandhi’s interview to a English channel, was widely quoted and became subject of debate for many days. Unlike Modi, the Congress vice-president, replied all questions, including controversial ones, put to him by Aranab Goswami. Rahul landed in trouble for his frank and forthright replies to questions and, at the same time, criticized and admired. His second interview was with the PTI in which he was more guarded.
Some excerpts from Modi’s interview: Asked how is that when you speak, you speak frankly, forcefully and from the bottom of your heart, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate replied, ‘ It is so because I like to speak the truth (nothing but truth)’. For the first time, he spoke of his life’s little unknown facets. He talked about his relations with the RSS – how he was trained in the RSS and high values he inherited. About his style of living, Modi said the canard spread about his dress, spectacles, costly watches and other items are not just true.
Asked about his slogan of Congress Mukt Bharat (Congress free India), Modi said ‘when he talks of Congress Mukt Bharat, he means freedom from bad governance, freedom from dynastic rule, freedom from misusing democratic institutions, freedom from price rise’ etc. Also, he said, ‘the Congress runs the government with a view to winning elections, we will run the government for empowerment of the people. Their aim is how to grab power; our target is how to empower people’. Modi further said the Congress also indulged in ‘vote bank’ politics and all its policies have been formulated with that end in view. Asked what is his blue print, vision, keeping in view UPA government’s shortcomings and bungling in the last ten years, Modi, replied ‘my first objective (if elected) will be to restore confidence in the people. The election-2014 is not a negative poll. This is an election for hope. This has happened for the first time in Indian politics’.
‘I am very clear in my mind about the priorities if I form the government – welfare of the poor, rekindling life in administration and regenerating confidence in the people’.
Q. People consider you as a towering leader. These people want to know what is your priority in different areas.
A. First, I would like to clarify I am not a towering leader; nor do I think in that direction. I have a commitment and I have my own set of priorities. First and foremost in my priority list is the poor, then young men, our mothers and sisters who are feeling insecure and the Jawan who is guarding our borders. The late Lal Bahadur Shastri had given a slogan – Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan. But the way heads of our Jawans are chopped off, the way Kisans have been committing suicide, it appears, Shastriji’s historic slogan has been reversed to Mar Jawan, Mar Kisan.
Q. Modiji, general impression about you is that you take decisions all by yourself, don’t listen to anyone. Your comments please?
A. This is another lie spread about me as the canard about my dress. I am basically a team man; nothing succeeds without team work. My success is because I consult everybody, listen to everyone. Once consensus is reached on an issue, I put all my energy to ensure that the decision is implemented.
Q. Who is your role-model in your life since your childhood?
A. Since childhood Swami Vivekanand has influenced me. Vivekanand was a saint and an optimist; he had faith in the God. But, he often used to say, forget the God for a moment and remember Bharat Mata. He used to say service to the poor is worship. All these things appealed me.
Q. What is your most popular book which left an indelible mark on your personality ?
A. I have read a lot in my childhood. There was a library in my village and I read whatever was available there. Village was small so was my family. A time came when I had to leave the village. Now a days I am not able to read so intently because of preoccupation.
Q. What interests you now –music or films?
A. I would like to listen to music, instrumental music particularly. I also like to go to mountains and stroll in hills. My favourite mountain is the Himalayas.
Q. What is the most happy moments and what is most unhappy moments of your life?
A. The happiest moment in my life has yet to come. That moment will come when every poor will have a house to live, children will get education, Kisans will stop committing suicide and old and disabled get medicines.
Q. And how about unhappy moments?
A. I do not count my miseries; nor I waste time on these trivial matters. IPA