INTERVIEW: Corruption hits all, action by agencies will not stop, says PM Modi | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

INTERVIEW: Corruption hits all, action by agencies will not stop, says PM Modi

By, New Delhi
Apr 12, 2024 08:56 AM IST

PM Modi emphasized the government's commitment to fighting corruption and expressed confidence in winning a historic third term.

Any level of corruption impacts the people of India and action against those who steal money meant for people’s welfare will not end, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday, pushing back against Opposition allegations that government was using investigative agencies to undermine the democratic process.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)

In an interview with HT’s sister publication Hindustan, the PM also expressed confidence that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will win a historic third term in general elections that begin next week, highlighting his administration’s 10-year-old record on development, welfare and infrastructure and achievements such as the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir and the opening of the Ram Temple.

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“Eliminating corruption has been a key priority of our government for the last 10 years… I am committed to take strict action against the corrupt,” Modi said. “Whatever be the level of corruption, it impacts the people of the country… action against such people, who steal the money meant for the welfare of the people of this country, will not end.”

Modi’s comments came in the middle of an election season where Opposition politicians have trained their guns at the BJP over the incarceration of prominent leaders such as Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren over corruption charges. The Opposition alleges that investigative agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate are acting on the behest of the government to create an unequal playing field for the general elections that begin on April 19.

Also Read | DMK has ‘1st copyright’ on corruption: PM Modi in Tamil Nadu

But Modi dismissed the allegations, saying that only 3% of the cases being probed by ED have people associated with politics. “Steps are being taken even in states where the BJP is in power. The narratives you have heard, that it is only political corruption that we are after, are being circulated by people who are under the sword of investigative agencies,” he said.

“Those who see benefits in a corrupt system are the ones who are crying foul and presenting the wrong picture in front of the people.”

Modi said his government took steps to end corruption immediately after forming the government in 2014.

“We ended Group C and Group D interviews in central recruitments. We started the National Single Window System for clearance in the country. We tried to make government services as faceless as possible,” he said.

Also Read | MK Stalin takes 'chancellor of corruption university' dig at PM Modi

Citing the direct benefit transfer (DBT) system, Modi said the government removed the names of more than 100 million fake beneficiaries who were not even born. “By doing this, the government saved 2.75 lakh crore from going into the wrong hands.”

The PM said ED also arrested corrupt officers, and attached assets worth thousands of crores of rupees, belonging to corrupt bureaucrats, criminals linked to illicit funding and drug dealers.

“Before 2014, ED attached assets worth only 5,000 crores, whereas in the last 10 years that amount has increased to more than 1 lakh crore. Before 2014, ED had seized only 34 lakh in cash, while under our government it has seized more than 2,200 crore in cash. Imagine, if this money was invested in welfare schemes for the poor, how many people would have benefited, how many opportunities could have been created for the youth. So many new infrastructure projects could have been launched,” he said.

Turning his attention to the seven-phase Lok Sabha polls, Modi said there was enthusiasm among the people about a third term for the BJP. “When was the last time you saw something like this in the entire world, that even after 10 years of a government, the masses are engaged to re-elect them to power with the same enthusiasm and absolute fervour?” he asked.

He also took potshots at the Opposition. “It is not the election, but the Opposition camp that is dull because of their certain defeat. Even the Opposition believes that the NDA government will return to power, which is why even several opposition leaders are shying away from poll campaigns.”

Modi hailed the achievements of his government on the economic and foreign policy fronts. “People of this country are taking note of the fact that India is the fifth largest and the fastest growing economy in the world. The third largest startup ecosystem of the world is in India. Our space missions, the ‘Make in India’ campaign, and the unprecedented speed of infrastructure development are topics of discussions all over the world. People have immensely benefited with rail, road and airport development works. We are way ahead of other countries in real time digital payment systems.”

He also drew a contrast between the BJP model and the Congress model, saying while the former strengthened the country, the latter was focussed on the family.

‘People have got the opportunity to compare the BJP model and the Congress model for the first time. The Congress ruled the country with full majority for 5-6 decades. In comparison, the BJP has served with absolute majority for only one decade. When they had full majority governments, all they did was strengthen their family. Today, when we have a majority government, our priority is to strengthen the country — villages, the poor, our farmers, and the middle class society.”

He said the whole world was witnessing the difference between the two models. “Our report card of 10 years is proof that the BJP fulfils its guarantees. Now, we are going to the masses with our vision of a developed India by 2047,” he said.

He underlined his government’s vision for India and its record in eradicating poverty, expanding hygiene and providing housing for the poor. “And what you have witnessed in the last 10 years is just the trailer. A lot more work has to be done. We have to take the country far ahead.”

In the interview, Modi spoke about biofuels, ethanol-blending, and the benefits accrued to sugarcane farmers due to the government’s clean energy push. He also spoke about the administration’s plans to expand employment for young people in Uttarakhand, and how tourism had flourished in the hill state. Both the western Uttar Pradesh region, where sugarcane is a major crop, and Uttarakhand, go to the polls in the first phase.

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