Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

‘The govt’s report card over the last 10 years proves that BJP fulfils promises’

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With roughly a week to go for the first phase of the Lok Sabha polls, PM Narendra Modi spoke to Shashi Shekhar about the reasons his party remains popular after two terms in power, contrastin­g his record against that of the Congress, and detailing his strategies for developmen­t. He hit out at the Opposition over corruption, dismissing their allegation­s that federal agencies are working at the government’s behest. He also revealed his plan to expand employment in Uttarakhan­d, which votes on April 19

How are these general elections different from the previous two (2014 and 2019) because it’s being said that there is not enough enthusiasm among voters and that there is no “wave”? Is there a mood of anti-incumbency?

Elections are the biggest festival of democracy in India. It is not the elections, 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 several opposition leaders are shying away from poll campaigns. Many people have started blaming EVMs (electronic voting machines) even before the polls have begun.

If you wish to see the wave, you will have to go to the ground, be among the masses. You will see the enthusiasm among people for the third term of the BJP government at the Centre. Our workers are already in the field. Now, even citizens have taken to the streets with “Phir Ek Baar, Modi Sarkar” slogans. 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? The 2024 general elections are also going to be a subject of study for political experts.

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 discussion 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.

Lord Shri Ram has returned to his grand abode in Ayodhya after a wait of 500 years.

Kashmir is free from the shackles of Article 370 and has become a part of the country’s developmen­t story.

Most importantl­y, 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.

Today, not only the country, but the whole world is seeing the difference between the two. 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.

We have a vision of an India in which every citizen has shelter above their head and every youth has job opportunit­ies. We are engaged in building an India where farmers are happy and prosperous, and women are empowered.

The fact that 25 crore (250 million) people have come out of poverty, toilets have been constructe­d in more than 11 crore (110 million) households, and more than four crore (40 million) poor people have their own houses proves that the BJP government at the Centre is dedicated to serving 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.

You recently said that stricter actions will be taken against corruption in the third term. Will this be limited to only political corruption, or will it also happen in the bureaucrac­y and the government systems? Because corruption is rampant at lower levels even today.

Eliminatin­g corruption has been a key priority of our government for the last 10 years. We took steps to act against corruption at several levels immediatel­y after forming the new 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.

We created the DBT (direct benefit transfer) system to prevent the money of the poor from going into the pockets of middlemen. As a result, we have removed the names of more than 10 crore (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.

I am committed to taking strict action against the corrupt. 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.

Let me tell you another fact which is not discussed much. Of the corruption cases probed by the Enforcemen­t Directorat­e, only 3% have people associated with politics. The remaining 97% cases are linked to officials and criminals. Action is being taken against them too.

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. ED has also arrested many corrupt officers. Assets worth thousands of crores of corrupt bureaucrat­s, criminals linked to illicit funding, and drug dealers have been attached. 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 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.

Whatever be the level of corruption, it impacts the people of the country.

I assure your readers that action against such people, who steal the money meant for the welfare of the people of this country, will not end.

Along with sugarcane, adequate measures should also be taken for its 126 by-products. Like 30-35% of ethanol from sugarcane is being used in petrol in Brazil. It is just 10% in our country. In some places, paper, crockery and plyboards are also being made with sugarcane bagasse. Are any steps going to be taken regarding this in the future?

When was the last time you saw something like this, that even after 10 years of a government, the masses are engaged to re-elect them to power with the same enthusiasm and fervour? The 2024 elections are also going to be a subject of study for political experts

Let me tell you another fact which is not discussed much. Of the corruption cases probed by the Enforcemen­t Directorat­e, only 3% have people associated with politics. The remaining 97% cases are linked to officials and criminals. Action is being taken against them too

I appreciate you asking this question because it raises a very important issue. The BJP government at the Centre is moving forward with a holistic and sustainabl­e developmen­t approach. Be it sugarcane farmers or any other class, our government has a comprehens­ive plan for their progress.

Ethanol-blending has not only increased the income of sugarcane farmers, but it has also strengthen­ed our efforts for sustainabl­e developmen­t. We achieved the target of blending up to 10% ethanol in petrol five months back. At present, that has reached around 12%, and we are well on our way towards achieving the goal of ethanol blending up to 20%.

India formed the Global Biofuel Alliance during the G20 Summit and appealed to countries around the world to participat­e. This is a testament to India’s commitment to biofuels and the environmen­t.

Because of the increasing push for ethanol-blending in petrol, sugarcane farmers have received more than ₹1 lakh crore in the last 10 years. If I had announced ₹1 lakh crore to farmers in advance through any government scheme, it would have made headlines in the media and even caught your attention. But my focus is on a more permanent solution to the issues sugarcane farmers face, than making headlines.

The government also invested ₹40,000 crore in ethanol distilleri­es, thereby creating a lot of employment opportunit­ies.

We are rapidly reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, and in that mission, sugarcane by-products have been of immense help. Sugarcane bagasse has also contribute­d to an increase in the production of electricit­y. The production capacity of sugarcane bagasse and biomass cogenerati­on plants in the country is being continuous­ly increased.

At present, we are dependent on imports to meet our potash needs. However, efforts are being made to reduce that dependence with the help of sugarcane bagasse.

The use of press-mud, one of the by-products of sugarcane, is also gradually increasing. One, it is being used as a bio fertiliser. Secondly, press-mud also plays a crucial role in the production of CBG, or compressed biogas.

The cups, plates, bowls and spoons that were used during the consecrati­on ceremony of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya were made from sugarcane bagasse. With us using such things in our day-today lives, the utility of sugarcane by-products has also increased.

It is said that water and youth of the hills are of no use to the region itself. Every day, people are leaving villages in Uttarakhan­d. The Centre has launched Vibrant Villages Programme (VVP) in 49 villages for the developmen­t of border villages. What other measures will be taken to stop migration in other areas?

In the last 10 years, I have undertaken the work which the previous government­s considered impossible to do. It is not in my nature to sit idle after seeing problems. In the time of those who neglected the hilly areas for decades, this saying was true that the water and youth of the mountains were of no use to them. But I have resolved to change this saying. The BJP government­s at the Centre and in Uttarakhan­d have placed special focus on the developmen­t of hilly areas.

When I say that this decade is the decade of Uttarakhan­d, there is a solid base behind my belief. I have full faith in the potential of Uttarakhan­d and the capabiliti­es of its people. The people of Uttarakhan­d will take it to new heights of developmen­t.

In the last few years, we have taken several important steps to curb migration. Efforts have been made to provide better opportunit­ies for education, health, employment and connectivi­ty to the people of Uttarakhan­d. Unpreceden­ted steps have been taken to improve roads, railways, ropeways and airways. As a result of this, the youth of the hills are now getting better education opportunit­ies with new avenues of employment within the hills.

For example, we have approved the plan to build IT labs and hostels in 20 colleges of Uttarakhan­d. Entreprene­urship program is being run in the colleges here in collaborat­ion with the Entreprene­urship Developmen­t Institute of India.

A MERU Centre has been approved in Kumaon University under the PM Usha scheme. New resources are being developed for students in SDS University, Open University, and Doon University.

The increase in the number of tourists in hilly areas like Uttarakhan­d creates new employment opportunit­ies at many levels.

Our government made access to the temples of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Hemkund Sahib, Manas Khand easier, and developed facilities for the tourists due to which there has been an increase in the number of tourists to these places.

Let me give you the example of Kedarnath. In 2012, 5.5 lakh (550,000) devotees came there, which was a record. The natural disaster that occurred in 2013 caused a lot of damage. Seeing the condition after disaster, people had given up hope that they would ever be able to go to Kedarnath. But our government resolved to change this situation. The result of this was that in 2023, about 20 lakh (two million) pilgrims reached Baba Kedarnath for darshan.

If I include the devotees of the entire Char Dham Yatra, this number will exceed 55 lakh (5.5 million).

The Parvatmal Yojana and the Char Dham Project will expand tourism in Uttarakhan­d in an unpreceden­ted manner in the time to come. I am confident that soon the number of devotees will reach crores.

Considerin­g the sensitivit­y of the hills, we have also expanded our capacity to deal with disasters. You might remember what an important role India played as a rescue team during the natural disaster in Turkey. The Indian team was appreciate­d all over the world for this work. In Uttarakhan­d, too, we have been able to deal with disasters proactivel­y and restore normalcy as soon as possible.

To promote employment, our government is running several schemes related to agricultur­e and horticultu­re. Special focus is being laid on horticultu­re of Apple, Kiwi and High Altitude Fruits and constructi­on of polyhouses.

Our Vibrant Village Program will not only benefit the border villages. If the road reaches the first village of the country, it will go through many districts and villages. If the telecom facility reaches the first village of the country, it will connect many villages before that with the network.

More than 600 villages are being developed under the Vibrant Village Scheme. Along with increasing the facilities in these villages, care is being taken to ensure that the traditions and culture of the villages should not be harmed.

If we talk about tourism developmen­t, planning to establish new cities is considered necessary. Due to lack of facilities, tourists are not able to reach remote villages. Mobile phones are still not ringing in 429 villages. Will the Centre help in this sphere?

I think Indian reporters need to spend more time on the ground.

It is true that Uttarakhan­d has been a victim of Congress’s neglect for decades after Independen­ce. Because of this, Uttarakhan­d remained far behind in terms of developmen­t. Now the BJP government is working with full force to help Uttarakhan­d get out of this situation.

Our government has started necessary measures for the developmen­t of infrastruc­ture for tourism in Uttarakhan­d and due to this, tourism has expanded in the state. Apart from the main tourist places, efforts are also being made to bring such places on the tourism map which are not visited by many tourists. Tourism possibilit­ies are being enhanced through developmen­t of infrastruc­ture at such places.

Till a few years ago, Pithoragar­h, which is a very beautiful tourist place in Uttarakhan­d, was considered far away from Dehradun and Delhi. It took many hours for travellers to reach here, but today, this distance can be covered in a very short time. Helicopter­s and airline services have made it easy to reach here. Roads have been widened which has made road travel more convenient.

Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri will be connected by an about 900km-long highway soon. It will be easy to reach Badrinath and Kedarnath Dham through Karnapraya­g-Rishikesh railway line. To reduce the traffic pressure in Dehradun, a bypass road is being constructe­d at a cost of ₹700 crore. Today, one can reach Dehradun from Delhi in less than five hours on the Vande Bharat train.

Along with physical infrastruc­ture, our government has also continuous­ly focused on digital infrastruc­ture. An approval has been given to install 4G mobile towers even in remote villages of Uttarakhan­d.

BSNL is installing about 500 new 4G towers here, and more than 60 towers are being upgraded. With this, the villages which are currently getting 2G or 3G service will start getting 4G facilities. More than ₹1,000 crore is being spent on this project. About 93% of the people of Uttarakhan­d are getting the benefit of 4G internet service, and in the third innings of our government, we will take this figure to 100%.

5G rollout in India has been the fastest in the world. 5G service is also available in many areas of Uttarakhan­d. Today, all four Dhams of Uttarakhan­d have 5G connectivi­ty. With 5G connectivi­ty in Gangotri, the milestone of 5G connectivi­ty in 2 lakh (200,000) sites across India was achieved.

Uttarakhan­d has today emerged as the favourite destinatio­n for workcation and staycation for the youth of the country. I would like to tell the people of Uttarakhan­d that their dream is my resolve. The BJP has fielded strong candidates to give voice to the aspiration­s of the people of Uttarakhan­d. Through them, the people there will always be connected with me. These strong, hardworkin­g and rooted candidates will become the representa­tives of Uttarakhan­d in Parliament and will continue to work for the developmen­t of the state.

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 ?? ?? We have a vision of an India in which every citizen has shelter above their head and every youth has job opportunit­ies. We are engaged in building an India where farmers are happy and prosperous, and women are empowered
We have a vision of an India in which every citizen has shelter above their head and every youth has job opportunit­ies. We are engaged in building an India where farmers are happy and prosperous, and women are empowered

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