BANGALORE — Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has been taken to task by the opposition for controversial statements by hardline Hindutva politicians, diverting attention away from its achievements.
Today he took the attack to his detractors in Bangalore in a speech that sought to bring the focus back on salient steps taken by his administration in the last ten months it has been in power. The speech was emotive and combative in equal measure.
"Despair has turned into hope in the last ten months," Modi said. He said that there was talk of India dragging down BRICs but now the country is growing the fastest among all of them. "The world had forgotten India under the UPA government. Now the country is a star."
Modi also pointed out his government's work on prosecuting people who have black money accounts overseas. "When we presented the bill in parliament, the opposition made fun of us. Now their mouths are shut," he said. He said that the government reached out to other countries so that black money could be unearthed and the guilty brought to justice.
Modi then turned to the issue of farmer suicides and said he wants higher financial inclusion. He referred to his speech yesterday at the Reserve Bank headquarters where he had said he wants a 20-year roadmap to bring poor people.
And he went a step further and talked about growing up with farmers. "I know their pain because I grew up with the poor, the farmers. I am not someone who has parachuted to the earth from the sky," he said. He said that one major issue for farmers, apart from lack of availability of bank credit, was corruption.
"A small farmer who barely had any land had to sell part of it to pay a bribe to get his son a chaprasi's job in the government. It is our duty to make sure this farmer never faces that situation again," he said. Modi also mentioned that his government is working on land reforms to help out farmers break the cycle of small lands, low yield and low income.
Modi encouraged higher earning members of the crowd to come forward and give up their gas subsidies so that the poorest can gain. "When I asked people of Delhi, 2 lakh of them came forward. Because of that, we saved Rs 100 crore which is now being disbursed to those who need it most," he said, adding that he expects a similar response from people of Bangalore.
"These subsidies will go to those families who cook by burning wood and coal, and fall sick from inhaling harmful smoke. Should we not help the mother and her kids who have to suffer every day? he said in the speech that had his usual emotive elements.
Modi also talked about improvements in the railways that were initiated in Suresh Prabhu's budget. "Earlier it was all about more trains. Now we are talking about a much better railways that can serve you better."
Modi is in Bangalore along with Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah and other senior leaders to attend the National Executive meeting of the party at the Lalit Ashok hotel.