Narendra Modi speaks in an exclusive interview to TIMES NOW’s Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami about his campaign and recent controversies.
Full Text of the Interview:
Arnab Goswami: It’s been a long election. In its last stage, the election has become bitter, negative and confrontational. Not even the Election Commission has been spared at the moment. You were named the prime ministerial candidate more than 7 or 8 months ago. When you look back, do you feel the election campaign should have taken this direction? Should the election have been so bitter, so negative and so confrontational? Take the example of what has happened in Varanasi.
Narendra Modi: You are talking of two separate issues. On September 13, I was declared the prime ministerial nominee. On September 15, I addressed ex-servicemen in my first rally in Rewari. I have addressed many rallies since then. I have done several ‘Chai pe Charcha’ programmes as well. I’ve also held innumerable 3D rallies. I doubt anyone else would have travelled as extensively as I have to meet the citizens of the country. My speeches are readily available. Upon analysis, yes, there would be a small amount of political commentary, but, 95% of what I have spoken all along is about real issues. I have spoken about inflation, unemployment, farmers’ problems, security, etc. I keep talking about these issues. I seek answers from the Indian government. After all, the election is for the formation of the Indian government. The Indian government must answer. In such a big election, has any member of the ruling party spoken on inflation even once? Has any interviewer raised this? Is inflation not an issue? Is corruption not an issue? I am shocked to see what has happened to this country’s media too. At least the media should question the ruling party. What has happened is, even the media is asking Modi questions only about Gujarat. I have given a minute-by-minute account of Gujarat to the people of the state in 2012 elections. The accusations that the Congress leaders are levelling against me outside of Gujarat have been levelled by them in Gujarat too. The people of Gujarat have answered all of those questions. I still had expectations from the people who have a neutral stand in the country. At least, they would steer the discourse towards real issues. It is unfortunate that not only political parties, but even those who have a neutral stand, have fallen short. That is not a good thing. Political parties should have fallen short in this respect. Even those who profess a neutral stand should not have fallen short. But that has happened. Secondly, this is not the first election where divisive issues have been raised in a campaign. But it is unfortunate that today, from a 60-minute speech, a matter that was raised for 30 seconds is played up for 24 hours. A 60-minute speech is played once, whereas the 30 second portion plays for 24 hours. Which is why, there is a perception that politicians indulge only in such acts. That is not the reality. It would be good that when you analyse all these in the period between May 12 and May 16, there would be an opportunity to correct the mistakes, as well as present the good in front of the people. I feel Times Now can do this. Secondly, you spoke of the Varanasi issue. I found out what had happened when I was travelling yesterday. I was stunned that they were talking about the security of the ground till morning. They were talking about a security threat. Seven days ago, the home minister of the country stated that Modi faced no security threat, that there was nothing to worry about. At a press conference, Chidambaram said that the security arrangements were done so well that Modi had addressed 400 rallies without a hitch, which is why talking of security arrangements would be inappropriate. Two senior ministers of the Indian government said this. And suddenly, they say otherwise yesterday. Then, one feels that there is something amiss.
Arnab Goswami: What is your grouse with the Election Commission? The Election Commission will only do what the district administration says, but this time your anger is directed even towards the Election Commission. Why?
Narendra Modi: I have not uttered a single word until now. Where does the question of anger arise?
Arnab Goswami: But your party has said so.
Narendra Modi: The party has written letters to them, giving them a detailed explanation. I cannot say much about this because the development is taking shape in Varanasi. It is better that you take a minute-to-minute account from Arun Jaitley who is in Varanasi. He will give you all the details. I feel that we are people who are rooted to democracy. We feel that constitutional institutions must be respected. The Election Commission should be given the utmost respect. That is why, we should not think of adopting unconstitutional means against the Election Commission. But, when that recourse is denied to us, we have the right in a democracy to register our protest under the ambit of the Constitution. We will never step out of that. It is up to the Election Commission to answer why we are being troubled. Specifically, why a single party is being troubled, why Modi is being troubled? A lot has happened to me, but I don’t want to get into it right now. Let the Election Commission take a decision.
Arnab Goswami: When we began, you referred to divisive issues. Mr Modi, this election has been confrontational; there is no doubt about that. My question to you is, let me take one example of the recent controversy over your comments and your tweets on caste, which happened this week. When Priyanka Gandhi responded to your Amethi rally, she said your comments on Rajiv Gandhi were low-level politics. But you chose to pick up only the words ‘low level’ and you made a duel or a confrontation over caste. Why did you give it a caste spin? And by giving it a caste spin, were you not aware that you would be deliberately getting caste back into this election in a big way? This election could have avoided the issue of caste.
Narendra Modi: I am shocked at how Times Now is so insistent on protecting a particular family. Is it not Times Now’s responsibility to show what I have said about Rajiv Gandhi to the world? Even if one word is spiteful or bitter, I am willing to apologise to all. I have given factual information. That factual information is available. What I said was that at the Hyderabad airport, a certain Andhra minister was insulted. Can you deny that fact? Is it wrong to give factual information to the people of this country? If someone rakes up a factual error during the Nehru era today, does that amount to insulting Pandit Nehru? Will the facts of our history not be discussed? Yes, if I would have said anything bad about Rajiv Gandhi, then, as his daughter, Priyanka has the right to get even angrier. I raise no objections to that. But when you don’t even discuss that, and use it to attack me, it is not right. I would like Times Now to display the courage to report to the world that I was only stating a historical fact. Sometimes, during speeches, there are slip-ups of continuity. But that has not happened in this case. You say you have the right to emotionally blackmail me; don’t I have the right to at least state the truth? Is it because I come from a humble background, from a humble family? Has this country become like that? Has my democracy submitted itself to one family? And when a poor man says something, there is uproar.
Arnab Goswami: But do you believe that Priyanka Gandhi was making a reference to your caste? Do you believe she was talking about caste?
Narendra Modi: I am most familiar with the Gujarati language. In Gujarati, the meaning approximates to the response I have given. Secondly, as I said yesterday, when there was talk of ‘neech’ deeds and ‘neech’ castes, isn’t the CWG scam an example of ‘neech’ politics? Isn’t making money off even toilet paper an example of ‘neech’ politics? When the Supreme Court directs you to distribute food to underprivileged children, and you let it rot, and sell grains for 80 paise to those who produce alcohol, isn’t it an example of ‘neech’ politics? Isn’t that a ‘neech’ act? After the massive revolution spurred by Nirbhaya, they allocated Rs 1000 crore to Nirbhaya, for the country’s women, and didn’t spend a single penny all year. They only made a mention of it in the Budget. In the interim budget too, they announced a sum of 1000 crore rupees to the Nirbhaya fund, when they hadn’t spent a single penny over the past one and a half years. Is this not ‘neech’ politics? Is this not a ‘neech’ act? I am responding also to the definition of ‘neech’ acts and ‘neech’ politics given by others. Take caste out of it, by all means. I have no objections to that.
Arnab Goswami: Narendra Modi’s stated philosophy is ‘One India, Ideal India’.
Narendra Modi: That has been my mantra.
Arnab Goswami: My question is that, Narendra Modi knows that when he talks of caste, it enters the political debate. Your accusation was on caste: ‘She made a reference to my caste’
Narendra Modi: Let me make it clear. I said that, it is not befitting. It is certainly not befitting. I agree that it is not befitting. The usage of the word is not good. Even the emotion behind the usage of the word is not good. Let’s assume I misunderstood. But even their intention behind such usage of the words was incorrect. But this family is such that it has raised lakhs of other families. How would you have the courage to speak the truth?
Arnab Goswami: We question everyone equally
Narendra Modi: Ask questions, all of you ask questions but some questions are used for a single purpose while some other questions are repeatedly asked for more than 6 months. This helps us learn where you are suppressed, pressurized or have the freedom.
Arnab Goswami: Modiji, there is no pressure on us and this point I am directly putting forth in front of you. I am again coming back to the first question of the issue being One India, Ideal India. Modiji, do you agree that now our country has moved 24 years after Mandal and 22 years after Babri Masjid demolition. Many people felt that this election was the real opportunity to move beyond caste and to move totally beyond religion and you could have played an active role in making sure that the focus totally moves away from caste and religion. My question to you Mr. Modi is that when people like Amit Shah said ‘Mullah Mulayam’ there was a religious symbolism to it. When Giriraj Singh says those who don’t vote for Modi should go to Pakistan as it is their ‘Mecca-Madina’, there is a clear religious overtone to it. You did tweet against it. You indicated that you disapprove of it, but you could have come out much stronger. You could have publicly taken a position, being tougher, being harsher and you could have done that.
Narendra Modi: If I didn’t protest. If I didn’t oppose it through the internal mechanism, don’t you think it would have continued? Hasn’t it stopped? Did it stop or not? That means I have taken action and you can understand. But does it mean that I convey it to the media and make my actions clearer?
Modi on alleged communal speeches by party leaders: Fact that these comments have stopped means I have acted
Arnab Goswami: Do you think you could have been tougher?
Narendra Modi: I was tough against this issue and that is why it stopped right. I can handle such things and you will be surprised in today’s scenario, the media has got all the information. I have been into social work since 45 years and at an average everyday for one or two hours, I have been engaging in social discourses. It is not a small thing. Discourses in a small or a large group. You will not be able to force me to say a single word but whatever someone else says anywhere in the world, and if you can’t resist to link it with Modi for the sake of your TRPs, is that right?
Arnab Goswami: But, do you believe these leaders were trying to give a religious spin? Were they trying to exploit sentiments?
Narendra Modi: No, I don’t think so. I will only have to say that this shouldn’t happen. I don’t think anyone planned to say such things.
Arnab Goswami: But, Mr Modi, you yourself have also said something which had religious overtones and can be considered that you were favouring one religion. I am not saying that you were opposing any one religion. In Bengal too, you said that. And I have an English translation of it and it clearly means that those who celebrate Durgaashtami and those who speak Bengali, they are all Mother India’s children. Why should it be the case?
Narendra Modi: Yesterday, I said something else so that even you people understand it. See, I think you need to consider Supreme Court’s judgment too. I only said what the SC says. I said the same thing what Mamata Bannerjee had said in the Parliament on August 4, 2005. I said the same thing what Indrajit Gupta as a home minister and as a leftist said in 1996. I am repeating the same thing what PM Sayeed, our MOS home said in 1995 or 1996. There are two things to this. You tell me in any country in this world, if there is an Indian origin and the natives of that country have an issue with it. Any country like Africa, Fiji, Sumatra, etc., where will that Indian go? His passport is of that country and he’s been staying in that country since 100-150 years. He will return to India and isn’t it India’s duty to accept that person because he is in trouble? He’s not coming here to loot India. How can they be denied justice? And if in Bangladesh, just because of religion, Hindus are thrashed and forced out. The Hindu population which was 35% at the time of separation is now only 7%. Such people have nowhere to go and if they want to return to India as they hail from our nation. Now, if you felt bad about Durga, then forgive me but those who hail from India and want to return, should this country leave them for the dead and behave as if we have nothing to do with them and let them die on their own? Only because of our political decisions, these people will have to die. Secondly, if such people have come to Assam and Bengal, then should the concern be limited to Assam or Bengal only? Gujarat should also take care of them, even Rajasthan and the entire country should take care of them collectively. Infiltrators come with a political agenda and no political parties in India before this has ever spoken in the favour of infiltrators. Some parties openly objected to it and some kept quiet. This is the first time, it has been noticed that infiltrators are openly invited to India. I ask one question to these parties who are openly inviting infiltrators who are coming here. Why is their attitude different towards Taslima Nasreen. Taslima wouldn’t be allowed to stay in Bengal. Why did they start an agitation then? Why are there two sections to this? And because of that I clearly say that and it is not related to Hindu or Muslim. Thirdly, thousands of families from Pakistan have migrated to Rajasthan since Partition, they have embraced our country and need our love but no one is ready to accept them. In Bengal, there is a caste, which migrated from Bangladesh and they hail from our country, poor people and they have nothing to do with politics. 40 years have passed and they have not been given the citizenship of India. Now, infiltrators are being given everything but the people who have embraced our land are not yet accepted wholeheartedly. This is all due to vote-bank politics and someone should oppose it or not? If someone speaks for the benefit or the country, I am surprised, if one speaks against terrorism, you people call me communal. Voice for population control methods, again termed communal. Protest against infiltrators, again called communal. Who will speak for my country then?
Arnab Goswami: No Modiji, India is not a one religion country and India has never advocated any particular religion. Hinduism has gone from India to the world. There are several religions that originate in India. My question to you Mr Modi is when on April 7, you released your manifesto and what you are saying is that I am not giving it a religious colour. I am only talking about people who are persecuted and I am welcoming people who are persecuted. In your manifesto, you mentioned good governance and development but in your manifesto you also mentioned that India should remain as a natural home to persecuted Hindus and these persecuted Hindus will be welcomed to seek refuge here. My question to you is why only persecuted Hindus, Mr. Modi and why not persecuted Buddhists, why not persecuted Sikhs, why not persecuted Jains, why not persecuted Muslims or persecuted Christians? Because if the BJP speaks the language of inclusion, then Mr Modi your manifesto should have included all religions.
Narendra Modi: I am ready to accept whatever you are saying.
Arnab Goswami: But, it is not in your manifesto.
Narendra Modi: What we believe is, all of them are our people only. All who are born and brought up here. As per the SC’s judgment, Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life. You went into the religion and we work according to the judgment of the SC and according the judgment of the SC, Hinduism is a way of life. In that, no Buddhist is opposed, nor a Sikh is opposed, In fact in Kerala, even today we have Christian followers, who live their life like Hindus. So, we don’t discriminate but you all do.
Arnab Goswami: But, in your manifesto, there was a mention of only Hindus.
Narendra Modi: Hindus were mentioned as it is in the SC’s judgment. Hinduism is as a way of life and not a religion. We have nothing to do with it. We don’t expect that Hinduism is a religion. Hinduism is a way of life.
Arnab Goswami: You said in your first answer and you said it’s an issue of inviting infiltrators. There is one follow-up question to this Modiji. In Bangladesh there is 8 to 10% population of Hindus which means 150 lakh Bangladeshis could be Hindus. Are you not giving an open invitation to all these Hindus by saying that those who celebrate Durgaashtami and who are persecuted can come to India?
Narendra Modi: I think linking it to this is wrong because people who have come here were forced to. They couldn’t live there and I would suggest that Times Now do an extensive research in Bangladesh to find out the troubled issues in that country and expose it to the world. It is not mandatory to take Modi’s version on this.
Arnab Goswami: But this clarification is very important. With reference to the persecuted Hindus because this has been a subject of discussion for a long time and I am sure you are aware of it.
Narendra Modi: What I meant is, the SC has said this and it has also said that we have to do it but their vote-bank politics is not letting us do it. It becomes difficult when you get marginalized to Bangladesh. Consider other countries like Fiji, Java, Sumatra, and Africa. Why don’t you do that?
Arnab Goswami: Because in your manifesto…
Narendra Modi: I will tell you. When there were terrorist attacks in Africa, all the people of Gujarati origin, who can’t even speak the language now, called us for help asking where they can go. What will you do, tell me?
Arnab Goswami: So, you are saying all persecuted people who are of Indian origin, irrespective of them being Hindus, Jains, Christians and Muslims can return.
Narendra Modi: That is obvious. But now don’t link all this to Partition. Or else you will link everything to the 1947 Partition and draw a conclusion. Please don’t play this game.
Arnab Goswami: No.
Narendra Modi: I will tell you. I don’t have any regret. I don’t resort to vote-bank politics. Votes come and go. Governments come and go, but the nation is important. A person living anywhere in this world, whose passport may be of any colour but if his blood is similar to ours, then he is invited.
Arnab Goswami: Modiji, whatever questions that I have asked. My Hindi is not so good but the central line is this whether it is Amit Shah’s ‘Mullah Mulayam’ comment, Giriraj Singh’s comment or the Durgaasthami comment or the manifesto. If one puts it all together, do you feel the BJP and the BJP of today especially under the leadership of Narendra Modi is still seen to be a right-wing religion based party that leans more. This clarification of yours on the manifesto is important that this election, did it give you an opportunity to break away from the mode of being a right-wing religion based party and did you take up that opportunity?
Narendra Modi: Firstly, we have mainly concentrated on governance and development. We have strived to plan how a 21st century India should look like and this election works towards achieving that goal. We have made an attempt by including all the youngsters as our centre of attraction and accordingly run our election campaign. And I can confidently say that because of all this we have a got a clear majority. We are committed to what we have said and the people of this country have not questioned our vision and plan. For these people also to come out of 60 years rule of a vested interest group is difficult. But the people of this country have finally come out of it.
Modi on 2002 riots
‘Trust only constitutional authorities’
‘Nobody should bank on a certificate from modi’
Arnab Goswami: I interviewed Rahul Gandhi in January. When the campaign had begun, I interviewed him. He was then being projected, not as the prime ministerial candidate, but as the party’s principal campaigner. I asked him one question in the context of the 1984 riots. I asked him, ‘do you think any Congressmen were involved in the 1984 riots?’ My question to you is this, that in your view, were any members of the Sangh Parivar, VHP, or the BJP involved in the 2002 riots?
Narendra Modi: I feel that on the subject of the Gujarat riots, the judiciary has been vibrant and has exhibited its activism. The media too has been vibrant on the subject and the NGOs and international agencies have been overactive. After all this scrutiny, I feel, let them draw their own conclusions. They don’t need a certificate from Modi. They shouldn’t even bank on a certificate from Modi. They shouldn’t have the slightest shred of belief in a certificate from Modi. Only constitutional authorities should be trusted. They have done so in the past, they will do it in the future as well.
Arnab Goswami: One side is the legal process.
Narendra Modi: Secondly, I would like to say that your name will go into history books, from your first interview to your last. Times Now has got that credit.
Modi on Kodnani
When I made her a minister she was not charged
She has the right to get justice from any court’
Arnab Goswami: I don’t want any credit, Mr Modi. My job honestly is to speak to all the people in this election and ask them all the questions that I possibly can. Mr Modi, I know that you have been given a clean chit by the courts and I know that the courts have found nothing against you in the Gujarat riots. But, in the spirit of my questioning, there is just one or two more questions that I’d like to ask. You know, the question is on Mayaben Kodnani. I was reading quite a few books which actually say that Mayaben Kodnani was more a supporter of Keshubhai Patel, certainly, not politically, in the Narendra Modi camp. Yet, despite the charges against her, which were quite serious, you brought her as a cabinet minister in 2007. When you look back, Mr Modi, given her conviction, do you regret it?
Narendra Modi: Who has given you this information? At least do your research. I thought Arnab does his research well. For your information, she was not facing any charges at the time. Later, when UPA-2 was formed, political games were at play. An SIT was formed, after which she faced charges. When I made her a Minister, she was not facing any charges, for your information. But still, I feel she has the right to get justice for herself from many courts. As a citizen, she has that right. Let her have it.
Arnab Goswami: Do you believe, in retrospect, that she could have been protected by the state agencies or the police in this case?
Narendra Modi: That sort of work was has been done a lot in Delhi after ’84. It is my view that the law must be allowed to take its course. The work of my Government is neither to aid someone nor to torture someone. I have to distance my Government from such things. I have always done so. I have kept it away even for myself. You will not believe this, because there is so much filth on your mind. By ‘you’, I don’t mean Arnab Goswami, I mean a particular clique of people. For them to understand this, it will take them 25 years, know and accept the truth.
Arnab Goswami: In my mind, I have no filth or biases or prejudices. I am just asking you, Mr Modi, after the clean chit you got, you wrote a very detailed blog post, in which you said, “I had repeatedly reiterated the same principles in my daily interaction with the media in those fateful days of February-March 2012 as well, publicly underlining”, and I’m reading from your blog, “the political will as well as the moral responsibility of the Government to ensure peace, deliver justice, and punish all those guilty of violence.” Mr. Modi, do you feel that your Government fulfilled this moral responsibility to ensure peace?
Narendra Modi: Yes, yes. There is no need to cite me further.
Arnab Goswami: Let me complete.
Narendra Modi: You are an editor. After this, you can give an hour long speech. I don’t have a problem. It’s your channel; you can say whatever you want. You can speak as much as you want, I have no problems. See; take 10 riots of your choice from the history of India. Select any 10 from across the country. You can include 2002 as well. You can present the data of how many FIRs were registered, how many people were arrested, how many cases were lodged, how many were punished in these riots in front of the whole country. If out of all of this, you feel that Modi has not fulfilled his responsibilities, then give it prime time coverage for 6 days. I have no problems. And if Modi is honest, then with integrity, present the correct news, if only for 30 seconds.
Modi on post poll alliances
Modi distinguishes post election scenario from campaign scenario
‘Have proven cynics wrong who said bjp would find no allies’
Hints at leaving door open for other regional players ‘Politics is not run on the basis of election campaign’
Arnab Goswami: We have covered all sides of the story, including when you were given a clean chit by the courts, Mr. Modi. On that, we maintain absolute objectivity. Mr Modi, my next question to you is on the question of allies because it’s a very significant question, it’s a political question. Are you absolutely sure, are you 100 per cent sure, that you will cross 272 by yourself and that you will need no other party’s support to form the government in Delhi?
Narendra Modi: There is an arithmetic needed for the Parliament. That is in its own place. There is an arithmetic needed to form the Government. But, there is no arithmetic needed to run the country. A spirit is needed to run the country. The spirit is all inclusive. Therefore, hypothetically, even if I and my party get 300 seats, then it is my duty in a democracy to respect all parties, even my political rivals have a purpose, even those who severely criticize me have a purpose. That is how a democracy functions. The country will give me the numbers needed to run the Government. To run the country, I need everyone’s cooperation. I will do all I can to get everyone’s cooperation, even if it’s the Congress. Running a country is different from running a Government. That is why you must not view the two in terms of statistics. We will know the numbers on the 16th. Even if we get 350 seats, every single MP from a single party is as valuable to me as 125 crore citizens.
Arnab Goswami: So your answer is that, respect the importance of everyone and the importance of taking everyone along.
Narendra Modi: It’s a responsibility.
Arnab Goswami: But I also know that Narendra Modi is a very savvy politician. Mr Modi, you must admit it, you also know the importance of political arithmetic. Let me bring you back to my question, Mr Modi. Everyone is watching this interview. What they want to know from you is that, are you saying that in a post poll scenario, and please restrict your answer in the context of political arithmetic, I know you spoke about chemistry, and I also know, having interviewed you in the past, that, if you want to, you are very good at avoiding the question. I want to bring you back to the question. Mr Modi, tell me are you absolutely sure, there are all these parties that you have severely criticized, and they have severely criticized you, you will not seek the support of these parties who have bitterly criticized you and whom you have severely criticized in the course of these campaigns? I am talking about parties like Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee, even Jayalalithaa to some extent, even Naveen Patnaik to some extent. Can you do business with them?
Narendra Modi: Politics isn’t conducted on the basis of what is said in the course of election campaigns. Look at ancient history. Elections bring about a different kind of atmosphere. Every party spreads awareness about itself. The day Modi was declared the Prime Ministerial nominee, the mainstream media across the country had only one centre story — that the BJP would find no allies. It was the centre story. For the first time in India’s political history, the BJP has 25 parties in a pre-poll alliance in the electoral fray. Even during the NDA regime, we didn’t have a pre-poll alliance. The Congress too has never had a pre-poll alliance on this scale. If you just analyse the track record, setting aside talk of arithmetic and chemistry, then you will find that the answers are self evident.
Hints at attack on Mayawati and Mamata tactic to keep door open for them
On leaving door open: Will explain after May 12
Arnab Goswami: Mr Modi, when you spoke in Amethi in your campaign for Smriti Irani, you referred to her as your younger sister. You also said something else. You said, if needed, you could get work done in Amethi. Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party would do it. There are two things. One is working with someone to run the country. The other is political arithmetic. This is the third time I am attempting to ask you this question. To bring the numbers together, are you willing to reach out to Mayawati? Because the BSP and the BJP have worked together in the past. Are you willing to reach out to Mamata Banerjee? Are you willing to reach out to Jayalalithaa if required to form the Government?
Narendra Modi: Let me explain two issues to you. You can conduct the entire interview on the basis of these, I don’t have a problem. Let me tell you. What did I say in Amethi? In Amethi, the issue was that Rahul ji said that development is not happening because the state Government is not responding. That was his statement. I replied to that. I said that is not how it works. If that is the case, you must make public how many letters you wrote to the state Government. Disclose that to the public, if you claim that the state Government did not help. I only said why would Mulayam Singh Yadav object to a road being constructed in his own region? Why would he object to hospitals being constructed in his own region? I only said that despite my political differences with Mulayam Singh, if I went to him with development work, he would accept it. There are three SP MLAs, two BSP MLAs who would support Smriti Irani in the field of development. This was the practical issue I raised. As far as your second question is concerned, it is irrelevant because the people of the country are giving all their support to the BJP to form government. But when the people give their support, there is little room for arrogance. The people have entrusted us with a responsibility. Arrogance takes me away from that. Responsibility brings me closer to my duties. I reiterate that a single MP is also a representative of 125 crore people. Running a country may be a number game, but it also means taking everyone together. I don’t believe that it is just it the BJP that wants to work for the country, and not other parties. They may have differing ideologies, but everyone wants to work for the country.
Arnab Goswami: Modiji, why did you antagonize so many parties? Let me take the example of Mamata Banerjee with whom now you have your greatest war. You are having a great war with Mayawati now, but before this you had a greater war with Mamata. In one interview Mr. Modi you said, I think it was to ABP, and you said that your decision to change the pitch of the attack as the campaign progressed was a strategic decision. But, on April 9, since I have been following your rallies and speeches very carefully and on April 9 you said that Mamata Banerjee was trying to clear the potholes of Bengal which were not cleared up for 32 years. In other words you were saying that she was doing development work, later, as the campaign progressed, you were extremely critical of Mamata Banerjee. You said that, you understood my question. Why did you change the line of attack? Did you change the facts?
Narendra Modi: I believe that for 35 years, Left destroyed Bengal, the entire Eastern India belt, if you look at it. If Kolkata was economically vibrant, it would have benefitted the entire Eastern part of India. But unfortunately, West Bengal which can play a decisive role in the development of East India became only an Island and was cut-off from the development work carried out in the rest of India. When Didi came to power, what I thought was that she can contribute in a large manner. I had positive hopes from her. When I went there, I hadn’t done full research. Whenever I met Didi, she was very cordial and I really thought she will do something for Bengal. So I praised her and said that she working towards a change that Left parties had merely promised for 35 years. But, then I started receiving numerous mails and information I was stunned and felt that I should have said things after a thorough research. I believe if you want to bring about development in Eastern India, then Kolkata should be developed into a powerful and vibrant city. Rapid progress needs to me made economically which will result in the development of the adjoining areas. If we are not able to provide good administration to Bengal then other areas in the eastern part of India will also get affected. There are four to five centers like Patna, Ranchi, Kolkata, Guwahati and Bhubaneshwar. All these centre’s need to be developed very quickly for the progress of our nation. And in the middle of this, if Didi wastes her time in politics of revenge with the Left, it doesn’t impress me. My Bengal is getting destroyed and I am hurt because of this. During this election, I felt that I should speak the truth and in democracy, elections is one time when people should be made aware of their leaders. It is up to the people if they want to believe us or not, but we shouldn’t be betraying them.
Arnab Goswami: But this change of heart. In 3 weeks your opinion was changed?
Narendra Modi: It’s not 3 weeks. I had gone in April that time
Arnab Goswami: April 9 to May 4.
Narendra Modi: I went now only right. On May 4, I went there and made the reference about ‘two laddoos’
Arnab Goswami: Wasn’t this a political strategy. Modiji don’t you feel you should have kept the door open with Mamata and Mayawati?
Narendra Modi: This can also be a strategy to keep the door open.
Arnab Goswami: I didn’t understand.
Narendra Modi: Whatever I wanted to explain, I have. This can also be a tactic to keep the door open.
Arnab Goswami: Can you elaborate on this?
Narendra Modi: I won’t explain it now but will do it after May 12.
Arnab Goswami: So, you will change your line after the elections?
Narendra Modi: I will tell you this time; the people of this country will give the strongest government since the demise of Rajiv Gandhi.
Modi: Will form the strongest and stable govt after Rajiv govt
Arnab Goswami: Modiji, What about Jayalalithaa? She has been attacking you by punching holes into your model of development but I have seen that except for an instance during a rally in mid-April you have not criticized her. It was felt for a long time that if required Jayalalithaa will be the one. She also came for the ceremony when you were sworn-in. It was believed that she will be the one who will be a natural ally. One who can work with your government?
Narendra Modi: I will tell you, don’t waste your time in finding allies. You have already asked me 6 questions related to this. I have explained everything clearly that BJP is winning with a clear majority and we will be forming the strongest and most stable government since Rajiv Gandhi’s government. Second question is of running the government, I have already said this that any MP belonging to any political party and from any part of the country, even if it’s an independent MP, for me he is the representative of 125 crore Indians. For me he is a respected parliamentarian and my behaviour with him will be as good as possible. I have said this 50 times now. If you don’t understand tell someone to translate it for you.
Arnab Goswami: When you said that this is also a strategy, did you mean that there is a possibility to work with all of them in some way or the other in the future?
Narendra Modi: This is not an issue for your personal benefit. If there is my personal benefit, I will go with you and if it is not, I won’t. The best way to run a country is to take everyone together. During elections, I may have differences with Times Now, but to run this country, I will have to involve Times Now also. This is my responsibility, Please come out of politics now, its enough.
Arnab Goswami: It’s election time so it’s natural that I ask about politics
Narendra Modi: Let us handle the politics.
When repeatedly asked on Snoopgate, Modi says SC is monitoring case
Arnab Goswami: Elections are underway and hence political issues will inevitably be raised. Mr. Modi, one controversy that is there is that of Snoopgate. On Snoopgate my question to you is, you have worked with Amit Shah for a very long time. Do you believe that the voice is that of Mr Amit Shah? Can you identify the voice of Amit Shah in that tape? Mr Modi, do you believe that having worked with Mr Amit Shah for so long and so closely that he could have broken the law without official clearances to deploy state machinery on one person?
Narendra Modi: Supreme Court is monitoring at the case. Supreme Court is examining the issue.
Arnab Goswami: What is your view?
Narendra Modi: What can I say and why should I interfere into the matters looked at by the Supreme Court. Supreme Court is looking into it. I trust the Supreme Court.
Arnab Goswami: As far as the Commission is concerned; the commission that has been set up by State Govt under a retired High Court judge on Snoopgate, Mr. Modi one of the issues which is there is, how is the conspiracy over how the tapes came out? I am asking you this question in the context of Tehelka. In Tehelka also it was asked whether there was a conspiracy behind why the Tehelka tapes came out and what was exposed in the tapes. In this case what is more important? What is in the tapes or the conspiracy on why the tapes came out?
Narendra Modi: I am not aware of the Tehelka case. As far as the issue that you wish to have more information on is concerned, even if you ask the same question repeatedly, you will get the same answer. The Supreme Court is looking at it. Let the Supreme Court decide.
Arnab Goswami: Why are you opposed to a Central probe into this case? On most cases, Mr. Modi you have been quite transparent. When you had given an interview to India TV, you were asked a question about your election expenditure. You had then said that let there be any investigation by any Central agency, including the Election Commission. If I am not mistaken you had said that to Rajat Sharma about your election expenditure. Why not a central investigation into Snoopgate as well?
Narendra Modi: I haven’t opposed anything. The case is in Supreme Court. I don’t want to play any role. I never opposed anything. People are saying this unnecessarily.
Arnab Goswami: But then why did you feel that Kapil Sibal and the Central Govt have other intentions, in a recent interview you said, Kapil Sibal had political malice on the question.
Narendra Modi: There were parliamentary elections held in 2009. That election took place in May 2009. That time Mr Kapil Sibal had come to Gujarat. And in his public speech he had said that Modi would be sent to jail during the tenure of UPA II. They had made up their mind that they wouldn’t give up before sending Modi to Jail. He only said it. And since then all their activities are somewhere linked to their efforts to fulfil this wish. This was the context in which I had given that answer.
Arnab Goswami: So do you feel this was a part of a campaign?
Narendra Modi: They have said it. I am not saying it. They have said it. It’s all said by them
Arnab Goswami: Do you believe that Snoopgate is also a part of that campaign?
Narendra Modi: I will tell you to leave Snoopgate to the Supreme Court. Do not bring it here. I have told you this already. And your job is not to trap me like this. This is not why I have given an interview to you. Your job is to ask me questions, and my job is to give you answers. And if your intention is to trap me or target me, please tell me accordingly, as I am well prepared for that as well. You can do that if you want. You can call as many people as you can for that. I am ready to face it. But this is not the right way. This is not the right kind of approach. Secondly, if you are asking someone, the person is telling you that the matter lies in the domain of the Supreme Court. I respect the Supreme Court. If you think that you are greater than the Supreme Court then it is your choice to think like that. What can I do about it? However I quoted Kapil Sibal after what he had said in 2009. Now all of you are very intelligent people. If you want to use the quote against me, then do so. If you want to use it against him, then do it or if you wish to suppress it, then do it.
Arnab Goswami: Mr Modi, were you surprised when your Doordarshan interview was censored? When the interview was censored and when the interview was given, I have two questions to ask. When you had given that interview, were you surprised that it was censored? When it was censored, your office released the original tape only after the fact that it was censored was highlighted by the media. Were you surprised when you came to know that the interview was censored?
Narendra Modi: I will tell you. First of all, I got a request from Doordarshan. Then I thought it’s not a problem and I agreed to their request. I made time for it. I found time for it and even my party records the interview. My party had also recorded it. Then I wasn’t aware of what was telecast on Doordarshan. I didn’t even know that it was censored or not because we never have so much time. But suddenly this issue of my comments on ‘daughter’ became very prominent. I never said anything like that. Then I asked my party members to show me the interview. I asked them if I have really said something like that. Then they showed it to me and told me that this wasn’t what I had said. Then I realised that it wasn’t just censorship but it was a conspiracy. Censorship is fine. Like for example, if I say something wrong about you and unacceptable and if you remove it then what’s wrong in that?
Arnab Goswami: We don’t edit our interviews
Narendra Modi: Even if you do I don’t have a problem. But the way it was manipulated to make specific conclusions in a bid to target me is what surprised me. Then I told my party members to release the original video on YouTube and that is how we released it. Then later on those who were targeting me for 48 hours over the ‘daughter’ issue suddenly became quiet after the original tapes were out. Everyone invested their machinery in protecting that family. I was targeted unnecessarily. Now, why are they helping that family I don’t know. I don’t know how far they will go to repay the debts of that family. Then the matter got more complicated as it was a matter between Govt and Prasar Bharti. They felt it would be better to avoid dragging Modi in it and telecast the interview and conduct discussions on govt, Prasar Bharti and autonomy of Prasar Bharti. Then the aim was to keep the discussion neutral.
Arnab Goswami: Mr Modi as far as the neutrality of media is concerned, though I would not want to talk about it now, but I can definitely say about Times Now’s neutrality that all the interviews telecast on Times Now — be it edited, unedited, censored or uncensored..
Narendra Modi: Yes in this case, I would like to thank Times Now for the fact that they telecast the unedited version of the Doordarshan interview and that is how I came to know. I wasn’t able to watch it initially. I am not able to watch my own interviews. I have heard a lot. You have done good work.
Arnab Goswami: Mr Modi I would like to ask you about a specific answer that you gave during the Doordarshan interview. You had specifically said that you wouldn’t respond to Priyanka Gandhi because you do not consider her as you political rival. My question to you is…
Narendra Modi: No, no I never said anything like that.
Arnab Goswami: Yes, you said…
Narendra Modi: No, no…
Arnab Goswami: No you said that. Let me tell you…
Narendra Modi: Your translation is not proper. (laughs)
Arnab Goswami: What you said that whatever she is saying is as a daughter. It is her right to work hard for her mother. Even if she gives you ten more abuses you are willing to listen. I cannot raise any objection as she is fulfilling her role only as a daughter. Am I right in my translation now?
Narendra Modi: Yes, yes, absolutely.
Arnab Goswami: Then my question to you is, why then in recent days have you reacted to what Priyanka Gandhi had said. When you reacted, you said without taking her name you had raised the issue of ‘Smriti Who’ and then you raised the issue of ‘neech rajneeti’ and also ‘RSVP’. So while you said that you won’t respond to Priyanka Gandhi because she is only fulfilling her role as a daughter, why have you responded to the things that she has said?
Narendra Modi: No it isn’t like that. If you are raising serious allegations against me then can I not respond? Shouldn’t I respond? If Arnab Goswami is not into politics, and if he raises serious allegations against me in future, then will I not react? That day my answer was that nothing is wrong if a daughter wants to work for her mother. My response was a very mature one.
Arnab Goswami: Why is there such an animosity, the translation of animosity is…
Narendra Modi: I understand what it means
Arnab Goswami: Why is there so much animosity between you and Gandhi’s? Why…
Narendra Modi: One minute, listen to me
Arnab Goswami: Please let me complete Mr Modi. Why has it got so personal with the Gandhi’s? You have made so many remarks in these elections.
Narendra Modi: What kind of remarks?
Arnab Goswami: So many remarks
Narendra Modi: Why don’t you cite a few?
Arnab Goswami: Every speech of yours is filled with such remarks
Narendra Modi: You please be specific. It doesn’t work like that. Be specific. You ask me specific questions; I am ready to answer every question of Times Now. I am ready to hear specific examples in your presence.
Arnab Goswami: I am never beat around the bush, Mr. Modi. In every speech you keep saying ‘Mother-son got’. You have said that ‘Mother-Son got’ will no longer exist.
Narendra Modi: You tell me whether there is any question on that after the book of Sanjay Baru? I started saying that after that book was released. I never said it before that. Go ahead. Ask me questions. I would appreciate?
Arnab Goswami: Oh would you? Since 2013 I have been following every sentence, and every speech of yours. In November 2013 you had said, ‘Madam you are ill. Let the ‘shehzada’ take over. Let us see if he is able to deliver round the clock electricity to Chhattisgarh’. Why did you say that?
Narendra Modi: I will tell you. You listen to the entire speech. I said that if she is not well she should ask her son to take care about the electricity. It was a very simple and pure statement. When I saw the debate over it on TV, I was very surprised. Similarly I have been targeted now very recently. Media was silent. I have forgotten what exactly it was. I was targeted exactly in a similar way and the media in the country kept silent. I was very surprised. I said it very casually. Like for example if say, ‘Mr. Arnab if you are ill, why don’t you get that done from some other person?’ It was that simple. But you must know that when the news of Sonia Madam being ill came to light, I was the first person, not even senior Congressmen, I was the first one to send her a ‘get well soon’ message with a bouquet. Whatever it is, and whatever anybody’s ideologies are, I respect those who work hard to do good for their families. You are saying this because you don’t know me well. You are not aware about the facts of my life.
Modi vs the Gandhis: Has the battle become personal?
Is the Vadra issue aimed at putting Congress on the backfoot
Arnab Goswami: A press conference had taken place related to Robert Vadra. The Press conference was about ‘Damad Shree’. I think it was about two to three weeks ago. So isn’t that an indication of the BJP and since you are their prime ministerial candidate, your personal vendetta against the Gandhi family?
Narendra Modi: You can see my track record for last 14 years. No one can accuse me of vendetta. No one can think of it. I have spoken many times about this. Corruption is a major issue this election. It is a major issue this election. So many cheap and false allegations have been levelled against me. You have no time to acknowledge them. But if BJP reveals all the facts to the nation, you call it vendetta. What kind of justice are you doing?
Arnab Goswami: Is the Robert Vadra issue an issue to keep the Congress on the backfoot? BJP govt was formed in Rajasthan in December. Since then there has been no formal probe initiated against him. Is it just an issue to keep them on the backfoot?
Narendra Modi: This is the proof of the fact that we work on the basis of facts and with a judicious mind and we don’t take political decisions in a haste. What Kapil Sibal and company is doing against us, we could have done the same thing in Jaipur. But we don’t believe in that. We are proceeding based on facts and we are following the judicial process. If it’s not proven then its fine, and if it’s true then the country will come to know. This proves our credibility. If we haven’t taken such an approach it proves our credibility. You call it a crime. What kind of an approach is this?
Arnab Goswami: No, No I …
Narendra Modi: If Vasundharaji would have done that in January, would you have called it vendetta?
Arnab Goswami: No why would we do that?
Narendra Modi: You would have done that. What else would you have done? They are peacefully following the Govt procedures. When the truth has to be revealed, it will be revealed.
Arnab Goswami: But Mr Modi every time the Vadra case came up, the Congress Party kept responding by asking the questions on Adanis. Mr Adani himself came out and gave a series of press conferences. He also gave a series of interviews. Now I know Mr. Modi what you will say and I know that the Supreme Court has praised Gujarat model for land acquisition. But I have just one question for you on that. One part that I find difficult to understand and I want clarity from you as a Chief Minister for more than ten years in Gujarat, is that how that land was given at rates of Rs1 to 31 per square metres to Adanis but were sold at different rates to Tata Motors. For Ford India it was given at Rs 1,100. So why is there such a difference in the rates at which other corporates are being given land as opposed to Adanis.
Narendra Modi: Firstly, if you go to Ahmedabad to buy a piece of land, and if you go to Kutch to buy a piece of land, will there be no difference? Tata is in Ahmedabad. Kutch is a desert area. Mass land near the sea also needs to be considered. Thirdly Arnab, this is a matter of numbers, do you want our Govt to give you all the factual information and then you will show it to the country? Will you do this? Because here Congress Govt has given land at the rate of 20 paisa. Not just that but at this very same location, at the same rate, the Gujarat Govt gave 1,000 Bigha land to Indian Govt. It’s at the same location as that of Adanis. Adjoining to the land given to Adanis. Such a large area was given at at this rate only because it’s a marshy land. Only water is visible in this land and it has to be filled. And that land is completely barren land. Nothing can be produced there. Not just that, the total area of land that Adanis have got in the entire country, shouldn’t you do some research on that? Shouldn’t you do some research on the land given to Adanis by the Congress Govt? Yesterday the Commerce Ministry also said that Gujarat Govt’s Land acquisition policy is very transparent. The policy does not favour anyone. The policy is not going against anyone. Now Indian govt’s own report says that. This is a political gimmick. Adani himself has responded. Gujarat govt has responded. You will find my detailed presentation on this on my social media platform. You please see it.
Arnab Goswami: I will surely watch it but I would just ask one follow up question on it. You said that one piece of land is in Gandhi Nagar and the other is in Ahmedabad. But the land of Tata Motors was in Sanand and Maruti Suzuki’s land was in Hansalpur.
Narendra Modi: These two places are 20km away from each other. They are just 20-40km away from each other
Arnab Goswami: I would like to ask you say that there should be a debate between your industry minister Saurabh Patel and commerce minister Anand Sharma.
Narendra Modi: I have no problem at all. I have no problem at all.
Arnab Goswami: Are you ready for an open debate?
Narendra Modi: Absolutely. I have no problem at all. Instead of a debate I would suggest, you set up a team that is knowledgeable about revenue laws. You just do one thing. Find out the presence of Adanis across India. Find out in what regions they are present and what they have got. Secondly find out if the Gujarat govt have given anything that’s not a part of the policy. Whether my policy is faulty can be debated. A policy can benefit even Arnab and even Tata. Even Vadra can benefit from a policy.
Will Modi’s economics be more swadeshi or pro-market?
Arnab Goswami: Mr Modi on the issue of economy, I think there is a need for some clarity. I’ll take a few moments. My first question is when the price of petrol is increased, the BJP calls it ‘betrayal of the people’. Now, crude prices continue to increase, this will be your real test. You have been critical of subsidies in the past, Mr. Modi can you afford to pull back subsidies given your own political positions on issues of price rise?
Narendra Modi: Who has told you this? When have I said anything to this effect?
Arnab Goswami: I can quote you Mr Modi.
Narendra Modi: In my opinion, I will say that the first right to the country’s coffers belongs to the poor. The government should cater to the poor. A government should listen to the poor and cater to their needs. These are my exact words.
Arnab Goswami: What is your take on subsidies?
Narendra Modi: Firstly, even in Gujarat, the central government has reduced our quota. I am fending for 11 lakh families from the state government’s budget. Can I let the poor people in my country starve to death? Will I ever let that happen? What use is the government’s funds? It’s for the poor and we are committed to using it for the same. A country cannot run this way.
Arnab Goswami: I asked you the question because you said on January 19 that ‘Congress party offered doles to win the elections’. That was seen to be a reference to subsidies.
Narendra Modi: Both are completely different things. If you announce freebies during elections, it gives out a different meaning, while within the economic policies, the schemes allotted for development of downtrodden people is a different thing altogether. These are two different matters.
Arnab Goswami: Mr Modi, your manifesto says barring the multibrand retail sector, FDI will be allowed in all sectors which are needed for job and asset creation. Does that mean you will revoke FDI in retail? What signal will that give out for investors?
Narendra Modi: The government is a continuous process. But, it is very unfortunate when SP creates a district and BSP comes and destroys it, AIADMK takes some decisions and then DMK comes and overrules it to make another. The country cannot run this way. Mature decisions must be taken. BJP has never spoken words of hatred. All we have said is, that the country is now going to face a huge shock in the manufacturing sector, and our youth will lose jobs. Therefore, the country’s priority must be to ensure job creation. Our policies must be implemented for job creation, and that will be our priority. For example if they try to trade umbrellas in India from the international market, as a result of which small umbrella-making organisations in our country lose their purpose and are forced to shut down, how are our people going to make their living?
Arnab Goswami: The basic question is this, Mr Modi, the question is because of all your years in the RSS and the influence of the RSS and the Andy Marino book on you, which is your political biography, I do not know if it is authorized or unauthorized biography which has just come out, seems to indicate that you were completely not in agreement with the RSS on their economic views. So my straight and simple question is will you be guided more by the pro market reformist approach which you have shown a lot of enthusiasm for or will you be guided more by the Swadeshi RSS approach?
Narendra Modi: Firstly all the books that have been written on me, be it a political biography or a biography or an autobiography, or whatever, I have neither asked anyone to write it nor have I authorised it. Some people have very unscrupulously also misused my name, but I have said nothing in the past. I do not give anyone undeserved attention and I believe only in the last 30 days, maybe some 250 books have been published, so I cannot take responsibility for that.
Arnab Goswami: Let’s leave that aside.
Narendra Modi: As far as RSS thinking on economic issues goes, all they believe is doing good for the poor. When it comes to me, and if I am in power I believe that I cannot contradict anyone who thinks on the lines of improving the country’s economy.
Can terror and talks continue with Pakistan? Asks BJP PM nominee
Arnab Goswami: On the issue of Pakistan, because your foreign policy will be central on Pakistan. You have said now in a recent interview that a confrontational approach is not the best approach in foreign policy relations, so will you allow talks to continue despite ceasefire violations? Despite infiltrations, because these ceasefire violations and infiltrations have really crossed all limits especially in the last 5 years of the UPA. In your speeches you have taken a very strong view on it. Can talks and terror continue?
Narendra Modi: Is it possible to have discussions amidst bomb blasts and gunshots? Do you think it is possible to have a discussion amidst the deafening noise of bomb blasts and gunshots? So to have a reasonable discussion, first the blasts and gunshots have to stop.
Arnab Goswami: So you say these things have to stop to hold talks?
Narendra Modi: There can be no talks till all this comes to an end. You tell me, we are sitting here but can we continue our conversation if we are surrounded by the noise of bomb blasts and gunshots?
Arnab Goswami: So you are saying that the export of terror from Pakistan, infiltration cannot continue.
Narendra Modi: The Indian Parliament holds a unanimous opinion and no political party has the authority to change this opinion.
Arnab Goswami: But my question is can talks continue? My question is on talks, can talks continue? They have not moved one inch on the 26/11 trial…
Narendra Modi: All these issues continue to stay as it was, today.
Arnab Goswami: But if you become the Prime Minister and Pakistan does not change its stance, if there is no progress in the 26/11 trial and infiltration and export of terror continues, then will your government continue talks?
Narendra Modi: Why do you think negative? If the country looks strong, then even its companions will change, neighbours will change and the atmosphere will change.
Arnab Goswami: But if it does not change, will talks go on? It is a very straight question.
Narendra Modi: Your question is born out of disappointment, where as my answer has a positive outlook to it.
Arnab Goswami: But, why don’t you say talks and terror cannot continue? That was the position of the BJP in these last few years?
Narendra Modi: If the country’s Government is strong, then the solutions will be found automatically.
Arnab Goswami: That was the position of the BJP when it was out of power.
Narendra Modi: I have given you the answer in other words when I said discussions amidst bomb blasts and gunshots is not possible.
Arnab Goswami: So you and I are basically saying the same thing. Recently, the interior minister of Pakistan reacted and some say overreacted to your comment on Dawood Ibrahim. Now my question is, considering the UPA government has completely failed to bring back Dawood Ibrahim, we keep giving them files on Dawood Ibrahim and if I am not mistaken, we gave them another file a few days back. Will you adopt the same tactics of asking and pleading with Pakistan to cooperate on Dawood Ibrahim because all the intelligence proof says that he is in Pakistan and that he lives in Karachi and he has the support and the patronage of the Pakistan government and the ISI?
Narendra Modi: I believe you are making a non-issue an issue here. Non-issue in the sense that it is not an issue of greater importance.
Arnab Goswami: But, he is India’s most wanted
Narendra Modi: But at this stage of the elections, it is not right to play with this topic. What was my point of debate? I was asked a question on Shinde. My answer was regarding India’s Home Minister. My answer was not regarding any terrorist or underworld person. He wanted to talk about it in a press conference and all I said was that such issues cannot be dealt with during press conferences. Did Obama call a press conference before conducting the operation? All I said is, during the elections, such big talk by the Home minister does not show well on him. I am not referring to any other particular person, or should I disturb the current scenario with this kind of a talk. There is government machinery in place and it will do its job.
Arnab Goswami: I know what you said, you said did the Americans talk with Bin Laden, my question is can the old policy continue?
Narendra Modi: I asked, did he hold a press conference before the operation? These were my words. Why does Shinde always need to do a press conference first? During elections, will this type of a press conference now show well on him? My issue was Shinde, my issue was a statement. My issue was not with a concerned person.
Arnab Goswami: On America, I know you have been asked the question on the visa ban and you have given a reply and I do not want to repeat the same question and give the same answer. I just want to ask you one question to get your full sense on foreign policy. There has been a view that the UPA government has been soft on foreign policy issues and you have talked about it yourself and also especially there has been a view that the Manmohan Singh government has been too soft towards America. I will give you one example and I want an answer, which I think will allow our viewers to read your mind. Recently the Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff called off a state visit to the United States in September last year because there were news reports that America had spied on her communications and that of other Brazilians. Mr. Modi at the same time, it was also revealed that the United States snooped on the Indian embassy as well and India was the 5th most tracked country by the American intelligence agencies and it was revealed officially. In such a scenario, I want to know from you, would you have reacted in the way that the Brazilian president did or would you have reacted in the way that the UPA govt reacted?
Narendra Modi: When we get first hand information, we will analyse it and will come to a conclusion on what to do.
Arnab Goswami: Would you have been tougher?
Narendra Modi: My simple answer is I do not have any information, I cannot go through media reports. Once we form the government, we will get the correct information, analyse it and formulate our strategy.
Arnab Goswami: Mr Modi, two more questions, one which you have been asked very often. In a Narendra Modi govt, will Rajnath Singh or Sushma Swaraj be in the Cabinet? Will they find space in the Cabinet?
Narendra Modi: Thank you for already forming the government for me, please do leave some work for me to accomplish too. Leave some decisions for my party, our team will sit and decide on these things.
Arnab Goswami: You know the context of my question; will they find space in your Cabinet?
Narendra Modi: The team will decide, the whole team will discuss and decide, what should be done and how it will be done.
Arnab Goswami: One view is that you have run a very effective campaign, a very tough campaign and a very aggressive campaign. When and if you form a government Mr Modi, the same strength of yours where you can take a lot of responsibility, some critics say could be your weakness where you over centralise, I want you to give your clear view today before we wrap up this interview.
Narendra Modi: Instead of taking my view, it would be better if you check my 14 year track record first. You will be surprised to see that all the credit that I am being given for the development of Gujarat is wrong. In reality it is a team that is working. You will be surprised to see that I essentially do not have any work in the government. For 14 years, I have had no work. I do not have to do any government work, I delegate it to my team, all the ministers have their professional freedom, but yes we do sit down every week for a discussion where we evaluate our situation and then move ahead. I do not have any other role apart from this. So the success in Gujarat is because all the teams are empowered. Also, secondly by God’s grace I still believe that every idea must be institutionalised and then that institutionalized activity will work. In 2002, when there were talks of Gujarat being in a desperate situation, where there was no investment in the state, I decided to tackle the situation head on. By 2003, I got everything ready for heavy publicity, with a view that I will bring investors back into Gujarat. The entire media was up in arms against me and the situation was made to be like, if somebody invested a rupee into the state it would have been a big crime. We worked hard for some 8-9 months at a stretch, everyday we would hold exhaustive meetings, and even my officers in Vibrant Summit were very enthusiastic about it. In 2005 I would attend about 2-4 meetings I would enquire about all that was happening, in 2007 they would come and brief me about the ongoings. But by 2009, 2011, 2013 I have only gone to ‘Vibrant’ summit for its inauguration and I did not have to look into how things were being done, and it was being done better than ever before. I hold a month long ‘Krishi Mahotsav’ where I go to the fields of the farmers with all my Government officials. In the beginning, it took me around 15 days to conceptualise this, but for the last 10 years I am just informed and I go for the event, all the other institutional work gets done. So basically, I am a team worker and human resource management is in my blood and so optimum utilisation of the resources be it human, time or monetary resources, I am gifted by the Almighty in that respect. I myself do nothing. You will be surprised and I am sure in the entire country no other politician will ever admit to something like this. I do nothing, everything is done by my team and I believe that the team must work this way in unison.
Arnab Goswami: Mr Modi, thank you very much for talking to me.
Narendra Modi: My greetings to all the viewers of Times Now and I would like to tell you that 8 phases of polls have been completed and the 9th one is to begin and the power of democracy is its people and I revere them.
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