PM Narendra Modi targets Congress in poll pitch to overseas Indians
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday used the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), the biennial event that brings together the Indian diaspora from all over the world, to target the Congress for failing to tackle corruption during the years it was in power, and contrasted it with his government’s track record in combating graft.
Modi, who has been targeted in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections by the Congress and other Opposition parties for alleged wrongdoing in the Rs 59,000 crore Rafale fighter jets deal, said the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government “has changed the way the country was being governed in the last four-and-a-half years”.
“People used to say that India cannot change. We have changed this thinking. We have made changes,” he said at the inaugural session of the event, attended by people of Indian origin based abroad, Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj; minister of state for external affairs VK Singh, and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
Without naming assassinated former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of the Congress, Modi recalled that a former premier had once remarked that only 15% of funds provided by the central government to states actually reached the people.
“This truth was accepted by the party that ruled the country for so many years… But it is regrettable that in the last 10 to 15 years of its rule, no attempt was made to stop this loot and leakage. The illness was identified and accepted, but nothing was done about a cure,” he said in his speech in Hindi.
Modi said his government had used technology to completely eliminate this “85% loot”, referring to direct transfers of benefits, such as subsidies and scholarships, to the bank accounts of beneficiaries.
Since coming to power in May 2014, the NDA government had transferred Rs 580,000 crore, or about $80 billion, to bank accounts of beneficiaries of different schemes.
“If things had been done in the old ways, Rs 450,000 crore from this Rs 580,000 crore would have been leaked,” he added.
Congress leader Anand Sharma said the party had strong objections to Modi’s speech at the Varanasi event.
“The Prime Minister is the principal propagandist of the Bhartiya Janata Party [BJP]. He is travelling the country and using government resources and the machinery, which he can as Prime Minister, for government programmes, government schemes, inaugurations,” the Congress leader said.