PM Modi in London: Discusses surgical strike, terrorism, Kathua case
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi while speaking at a BharatKiBaat address in London’s Westminster Central Hall on Wednesday night criticised the rape incidents, saying that nothing could be worse than the rape of a girl child and the issue should not be politicised. He spoke on a number of issues, including a surgical strike on Pakistan, terrorism, Swachh Bharat and even on himself, when questioned by the audience.
“When a child is raped, what could be worse? Is that the time to compare to metrics versus the earlier governments? When a girl comes home late, all parents are worried. When a boy goes out and comes home late, why don’t we ask him where he was? We must make our men accountable. Look…I have lived the life of a poor man, I don’t need to learn about it from a book and I know how tough that life is. Nothing is more important to me than to make our country safer, cleaner…”, Modi said.
Dressed in a dark bandhgala and sporting a printed pocket square, Modi spoke in Hindi sprinkled with the occasional Sanskrit couplet and took questions from moderator Prasoon Joshi and the audience.
Modi is in London to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting this week.
When questioned by an audience on surgical strike in Pakistan, Modi said, “We called them (Pakistan) and told them about the surgical strikes, we have nothing to hide. They were afraid of picking up the phone. We informed them what we had done and asked them to pick up the bodies. Before India and media were informed we spoke to Pakistan.
“Yeh Modi hai…usi bhasha mein jawab dena jaanta hai (This is Modi…he knows how to reply in the same language)”, he said, several times invoking himself in the third person as he reiterated that India would not tolerate those who export terror.
“Those who like exporting terror, I want to tell them that India has changed and their antics will not be tolerated…We believe in peace. But we will not tolerate those who like to export terror. We will give back strong answers and in the language they understand. Terrorism will never be accepted,” he said.
On his criticism, he said he took the criticism as an opportunity. “Criticism is the bedrock of democracy but criticism takes time and research and fact-checking. Who has the time for that nowadays? Allegations are the new form of criticism. That is something we must all be wary of,” Modi said. “They fling stones at me, I use those same stones to make a stairway for myself and keep moving forward,” Modi said, quoting lines from a poem he wrote.
On poverty, he said he had been so poor and faced so many difficulties in life that power and riches don’t affect him.
“When I was Gujarat chief minister, I used to get gifts at various events— sometimes a silver sword, often beautiful paintings. Wouldn’t anyone want to keep these in their homes? Not me. I auctioned them away and soon enough we had Rs 100 crore with which we created a fund for the education of the girl child. That is my life. I have been so poor that these riches don’t affect me.”
Modi said India had arrived on the world stage.
“This is not like the old times, when all was good and great when India and all the other countries are all on the same platform. No. This is a time when we must stand for what is best about us and say it loudly and with confidence from the highest mountain. Who stopped us from going to Israel? I went. If it is necessary for our country, I will go to Iran too. Saudi Arabia is right next door, it is not even a four-hour flight. I will go wherever we must to secure India’s interests.”
“If India has a million problems, we have a billion solutions”
“I’m just an ordinary man like you. Think of me like one of you. The position I occupy is about work. I am a lifelong student. My equity is the support of a billion Indians. I may make mistakes but I will never do it with the wrong intentions. I have been Gujarat’s longest serving chief minister. I have never done and will never do anything with the wrong intention. I never thought I could change the country. But I believe fervently that if there are a million problems in India, we have a billion solutions. That is where I draw my strength from.”