Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

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

In an exclusive interview, the Prime Minister defends action by federal agencies, blunts Opposition charges, and says a huge victory by his party will set a new benchmark for polls

- Shashi Shekhar letters@hindustant­imes.com

NEW DELHI: 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.

In an interview with HT’s sister publicatio­n Hindustan, the PM also expressed confidence that the BJP will win a historic third term in general elections that begin next week, highlighti­ng his administra­tion’s 10-yearold 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.

“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.

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.

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