Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an exclusive interview with News Nation, lashed out at the Opposition over its allegations that the government was blatantly politicising the prevailing security situation and deaths of armed personnel, and added journalists should provide proof of any such rally or interaction where he had sought vote in the name of the Army post the Balakot air strike.
In an exclusive marathon interview with News Nation’s Deepak Chaurasia and Peenaz Tyagi, PM Modi answered the volley of questions.
(PM Narendra Modi with News Nation's editor-in-chief Sanjay Kulshrestha, on extreme right, Deepak Chaurasia and Peenaz Tyagi)
“Journalists should provide proof of any such rally or interaction where he had sought vote in the name of the Army. Should I not tell people about what the Congress has been saying about our top military commanders. I am simply telling people that Congress party is calling our Air Chief Marshal a liar, should I not say something. These are not a municipality polls. These are national elections. Forces are part of this,” Modi said in the marathon interview with News Nation’s Deepak Chaurasia and Peenaz Tyagi.
#PMOnNewsNation | It is the right of the Opposition to raise their voice. But they should attack me with full information and responsibility. Not just for sake of media attention: PM @narendramodi— News Nation (@NewsNationTV) May 11, 2019
Read full interview: https://t.co/GUBygFnLDb pic.twitter.com/i6bsE9zjs8
What about development vs nationalism? What was on his mind when the Indian Air Force carried out the stunning airstrikes across boring in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa? What about Rahul Gandhi’s Rs 30,000 crore Rafale allegations against him?
Modi answered the volley of questions. The interview also dealt with unique aspects of the Prime Minister’s persona. From his half-sleeves kurtas to not keeping a wallet, the Prime Minister opened up about some lesser-known facts in the interview.
‘Balakot air strike: I don’t need any credit’
Asked what was on his mind when he gave instruction for Balakot airstrike, PM Modi said he does not want any credit for the special operations post the Pulwama terror attack on February 14 and the country must hail the armed forces for their bravery and achievement.
"I don’t want any credit. I don’t need any credit. But the Army is ours. It is our pride. Why should not we take pride in that? Don't give credit to Modi. But we must hail our forces for their stunning achievement," Modi said.
Opening up about the minute details of the fateful night of Balakot airstrike, the prime minister for the very first time said: "It was raining heavily that night and at around 12 midnight, a thought crossed my mind about the plan".
"I was thinking if we should carry out the airstrikes some other day due to bad weather. However, I am not an expert and thought that these clouds can provide us much needed cover," he added.
"At around 1:30 am, we started the movement, at 2:55 we okayed it and at 3:20 am I got the report about the airstrikes. There were so much of movement in air and water that it confused Pakistan," Modi went on to describe further.
On the intervening night of February 25 and 26, the Indian Air Force carried out air strikes across the LoC at around 3:30 am. According to reports, 12 Mirage 2000 Indian Fighter jets dropped 1,000 kg bombs, destroying several Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) training camps across the Line of Control (LoC).
The strike was in response to the February 14 Pulwama terror attack, in which a suicide bomber of the Pakistan-based JeM rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into a bus in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district, killing 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel.
'India warned Pakistan - don't touch Abhinandan Varthaman or else...'
The Prime Minister for the first time revealed what happened after Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was captured by Pakistani forces during a dogfight on February 27. Modi said India had asked Pakistan officials not to harm Abhinandan, or “else it will ruin everything”.
“First, I got to know about airspace violation, Then I got know about Abhinandan. We had told them (Pakistan officials) very clearly. Don’t touch Abhinandan, else it will ruin everything,” Modi said in the interview.
Varthaman was captured by the Pakistani Army after his MiG-21 Bison jet was shot down in a dogfight with Pakistani jets during aerial combat.Before his jet was hit, he downed an F-16 fighter of Pakistan. Varthaman was released on the night of March 1 by Pakistan. After he was captured, Varthaman showed courage and grace in handling the most difficult circumstances for which he was praised by politicians, strategic affairs experts, ex-servicemen, celebrities and people in general.
Relations with Pakistan
PM Modi also spoke of relations with Pakistan. Modi said he wanted “friendship” with the neigbouring nation, inviting former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. “India convinced people that Modi wants cordial ties with Pakistan. Later, when they did Uri and I ordered out air strikes, I didn’t need to convince global community. Now, Pakistan is publicly distancing itself from terror groups,” the PM said.
‘Lok Sabha elections 2019 are being fought on Vikas and Vishwas’
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Lok Sabha elections 2019 are being fought on development plank and trust.
“As far as the elections are concerned they are being fought on development plank. But apart from ‘Vikas’, it is about ‘Vishwas’ also,” PM Modi said. “The reason is 2014 and the regime before that. People were dejected with no aspirations and their hopes were shattered. But with the journey of 2014 to 2019, people developed a trust. So, this election is actually about pro-incumbency wave. This election will bring NDA-government back to power.”
The prime minister further said: “I was expecting that our critics would have studied our government’s working and during the elections, they would come up with some facts but they are not ready to work hard on their research. They are afraid that if they counter us, they won’t be able to answer how their government was not doing enough. They are afraid that if they raise questions against me and my government, it will expose them. The easy route for them is to create a big lie and abuse Modi. They have abused Modi so much that people have made Modi the mantra.”
On being asked whether the Lok Sabha Elections is about Modi vs Modi and whom he think is his biggest rival, PM Modi said: “We were thinking that there was a wave for the Mahagathbandhan. In Karnataka, during the new government formation, they held hands and sent out a message to the nation. But by the time they reached Delhi, they all were separated. Be it Sharad Pawar or Deve Gowda, have you seen these leaders with Congress? Nobody is ready to stand beside them. Not even ready to click photos.”
During the interview, PM Modi was also asked whether the entire opposition has succeeded in tarnishing his image on corruption charges and also on accusations of weakening institutions and democracy. PM Modi said: “Narendra Modi’s 45 years of public life has gone through a ‘tapasya’. No newspaper wala or TV wala has created Modi. Those who are born on pages of newspapers, they have a very limited life. Those who are born on TV screens, their presence is restricted. But a person who has gone through tapasya, that person has an unlimited life. So, no matter how much anybody tries, if media had created Modi, media would have destroyed Modi. But that didn’t happen.”
‘Sam Pitroda’s ‘hua toh hua’ remark reflects Congress’ school of thought’
Modi launched a scathing attack on the Congress for Sam Pitroda’s comments on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Modi said Pitroda’s comment shows the “character and arrogance” of the Congress.
“If you are limiting yourself to SamPitroda, this is not right. When Rajiv Gandhi became prime minister, his first remark was ‘when a big tree falls, the Earth shakes.’ After that, whatever happened was in the continuity of that remark. There was such a big riot in Delhi, so many people died, but no curfew was imposed in the national capital. Not a single bullet was fired by the police. Those who shook earth were blessed,” Modi said in the interview.
#PMOnNewsNation | When Rajiv Gandhi became PM, his first remark was “when a big tree falls, earth shakes". After that whatever happened was in the continuity of that remark, says PM @narendramodi— News Nation (@NewsNationTV) May 11, 2019
Read full interview: https://t.co/kw7SY17Oaz pic.twitter.com/QXKmwMHNHO
“After that, the commissions were formed. In fact, a person was made Punjab elections in-charge. After a huge uproar over his role in 1984 riots, he was removed and later made the chief minister. The victims feel that they don’t care for us. Pitroda’s remark is part of that school of thought. The Congress party’s ego is at a peak, they don’t care about anything,” he added.
Pitroda, who is in charge of the Indian Overseas Congress, made the remarks on Thursday while replying to questions on the BJP’s claim that the 1984 riots took place on the orders of former PM Rajiv Gandhi.
“I don’t think so. This is also another lie. And what about 1984? You speak about what you have done in five years. It happened in 1984, so what? (1984 hua toh hua). What have you done?,” Pitroda was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
‘Why is media silent over violence in West Bengal?’
“Whenever anything happens in Jammu and Kashmir, media raises the issue like anything. But what about Bengal. It is about democracy. Compare the Panchayat elections in these two states. While everything was reported about J&K, nothing was told about Bengal. People are killed and hanged on trees there. Why is media silent. Question is not about Modi, question is not about democracy,” Modi said while targeting Mamata Banerjee.
‘Will personally go and honour a journalist who questions Opposition on Rafale’
The prime minster also gave some interesting insights about the politically sensitive Rafale fighter jet deal, which has been a source of major controversy for the last few months. On the burning question of Congress president Rahul Gandhi's Rs 30,000 crore Rafale allegations, PM Modi said he is very well aware of the intentions of those people who are making these accusations.
#WATCH | PM @narendramodi responds to Congress president Rahul Gandhi's "Rs 30,000 crore" Rafale allegation. Here's what he said#PMOnNewsNation— News Nation (@NewsNationTV) May 11, 2019
Read full interview: https://t.co/kw7SY17Oaz pic.twitter.com/sHNHCPiI9X
The prime minister further said people should ask those complainants to provide details in support of their allegations rather than questioning him on the issue again and again. Modi also appealed to journalists to question the opposition on their facts.
"I know those who are making these allegations and I know their intent. Why nobody is asking this question to them? Nobody has asked them to give details about those allegations. I would personally go and honour a journalist who asks them such a question," PM Modi was quoted as saying during the interview.
Did Modi ever carry a wallet? Here is an interesting answer
Modi also talked about things that his fans and followers always wanted to know and one of the things that the prime minister spoke about was 'did he ever carry a wallet with him?'
PM Modi said he never had anything to keep in the wallet and therefore never felt the need of keeping one. "I didn't have money so there was no need to carry a wallet. If one carries a wallet, one should have something to keep in that wallet. In 2001, when I became an MLA, I used to get money. After that, I opened a bank account. Then the money started coming when I became CM and PM. Now, I just withdraw money for my monthly expense and give it to my staff to take care of these things. I never carry anything in my pockets," the prime minister said.
Modi had once revealed that he has always been given money by his mother. He had also mentioned that even when he was the Chief Minister, he never relied on the government to finance his family. The prime minister also shared his childhood memories and said that always preferred to do things which are for the betterment of society. Therefore, he never thought about living a luxurious lifestyle.
The prime minister said he never bought any item of luxury from his own money, and the only luxury he was involved in was watching movie and that too for free.
"I have stayed disciplined in my entire life. If you call watching movies a luxury, you can say I have indulged in that. But all this was in my childhood. I used to watch movies for free. Because my best friend’s father would let us in a cinema hall. Dashrath’s father had a 'khomcha' outside a theatre and he would help us kids in watching the movies," he told News Nation.