Defending his government against the barrage of criticism over alleged scams, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphatically announced from the ramparts of the Red Fort that there had been no allegations of corruption during his 15-month tenure.
"Ek naya paise ka bhi bhrashtachar ki aarop nehi hai (there is not even an allegation of corruption of a single paisa)," Modi said, breaking his silence on the recent charges of scandal. Even as the PM assured to eradicate corruption from the country he added "efforts should start from the top".
The Congress-led Opposition had been screaming for Modi's clarifications over 'Lalitgate' involving foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje and Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
In an earlier speech, he had prasied the two chief ministers. Modi's speech on Saturday is seen by many as a clean chit to Sushma Swaraj.
The PM chose his second Independence Day speech to speak extensively on the subject of corruption. While he described how different measures of his government like linking cooking gas subsidy with Aadhar providing NREGA payments and scholarships directly through banks and auction of coal blocks and FM channels have helped in curbing malpractices, he indirectly hit out at the Opposition saying, "some people are spreading pessimism".
"They can't sleep peacefully unless they are able to spread this sense of pessimism among other people."
Modi compared corruption with termites and said that when these insects affect one part of the house, the entire premise needs to be treated. "Similarly, we have to take thousands of steps to weed out corruption. Termites still exist in some small places."
Aiming his critics, Modi claimed that he was under pressure not to go for FM radio band auction. The new laws on black money too, have made life difficult for some people, he quipped.
Describing how his government is on track to bring back black money stashed outside the country, he said, "Now, people can no more hoard black money outside India."
But the Vyapam recruitment and admission scandal was possibly at the back of his mind when Modi suggested cleaning up the recruitment system. He suggested conducting exams and declaring their results online and bringing transparency in announcing the list of successful candidates against the number of vacancies.