NEW DELHI — Accused of being pro-corporate, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today projected his government as pro-poor and pro-farmers and lashed out at his critics for their "congenital habit" of running down BJP.
While refraining from speaking about the land acquisition bill against which Congress organised a rally here, he made a special mention about his government's initiatives to benefit the farmers, including the "bold" decision to pay compensation to those who suffered in the recent rains by bringing down the criteria of damage from 50 per cent to 33 per cent.
The only oblique reference he made to the controversial bill was when he attacked "perverted minds", including a section of media, for wrongly projecting his speech in Bengaluru during the party's National Council meeting earlier this month.
Modi asked party MPs and other workers to highlight the contrast between the work of previous governments and the NDA dispensation in terms of their pro-poor measures as he asserted that welfare of the poor is close to his heart.
He targeted former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, in a veiled manner, for having said that out of Re one, only 15 paise reaches the people, saying "you do not have to only do analysis but treat the disease".
Modi, who was addressing the party MPs on the eve of the second half of Parliament's Budget session, highlighted the schemes initiated by his 10-month-old government and said these were all intended to benefit the poor.
"Hold your head high, be confident and tell the people what we are doing for them and they will laud you... All decisions I am taking are for the welfare of the poor," he said at a meeting of BJP MPs.
Citing examples like drop in inflation and falling cement prices, he said these were the result of his government's schemes which had benefitted the poor.
"Some people have this 'janmjaat (congenital)' habit of running down BJP. They have a right to criticise us but then they have no right to call themselves neutral... I have always been speaking about the poor, working for them.
"Some people have decided not to hear anything good, not to say anything good and not to see anything good. We should not waste our time on them but focus on those who want to listen. ... You should become more active and tell people what all we are doing. Don't think about what media is saying," he said. .
To buttress his point about his government being 'pro-poor', the Prime Minister talked about schemes like Jandhan and direct transfer of subsidies to poor besides efforts to curb leakage in NREGA.
"You need to propagate this message. You need to draw a comparison between the work done by previous governments and our government," he told the BJP MPs and workers.
Citing the case of 'black and white' and 'colour' eras in television history, he said contrast should be drawn on the same lines about policies of the previous governments and the present government.
Talking about NREGA, Modi said letters should be written to him in case of any irregularities were found in its implementation anywhere in the country.
"Our intention is to benefit the poor. When villagers get purchase power, it will help develop the villages as well as cities," he said.
He said hailstorms have caused damage to farmers earlier also "but the decisions like now have never been taken earlier. Previously, compensation would be paid if loss to crop was at least 50 per cent. We took the bold decision that compensation will be paid even if loss to crop is 33 per cent."
He said the compensation amount has also been increased to one-and-a-half times.
Wheat crop was also damaged in terms of quality and the government decided to procure even that "because we are for the poor", Modi said. .
In his hour-long speech, Modi dwelt at length about the pro-poor measures of his government and punctuated it with attacks on his critics, including a section of media, for magnifying small things.
"You must have seen how small incidents have been constantly magnified. Since they have nothing to counter the big (good) work, they are exaggerating small incidents," he said.
He did not elaborate but the remarks came in the backdrop of attacks over controversial statements of some Union ministers and party MPs besides alleged activities of Sangh-affiliates. Critics say that such incidents have continued despite disapproval by the Prime Minister.
"We are working for the poor, not for being in news but because we cannot sleep peacefully if we don't do it. We live for the poor. We are in public life not to enjoy the power but for the welfare of the poor," the Prime Minister said.
Insisting that government's initiatives were bearing results, he said, "The US President (Barack Obama) as also the head of the World Bank and IMF, all accept that India is the fastest growing economy of the world".
"In anybody looks close, he will find that our effort is to help the common masses, the new middle classes, who do not want to go back to their jhuggis at any cost... Our attempt is to empower the poor. We live for the poor. We are not here to enjoy power," he said.
His government, he said, was driven by 'rashtraniti (policies for nations progress) and not politics.
"Politics says we should waste public exchequer, distribute it and receive public praise. This politics has destroyed the country. Only 'rashtraniti can save the country. It says we should empower the people," he said.
A combative Modi lamented the lack of "echo-effect" about the "good work" of his government as he listed out a number of "successes", including civil nuclear deals India signed with France and Canada during his recent three-nation tour.
He said the outcome of his three-nation visit was not projected in its entirety and the public discourse remained confined to the deal on procurement of 36 Rafale fighter planes from France
BJP leaders, he said, have been used to being in the opposition and are not highlighting appropriately the achievements. "I will not blame media for this... We do not project them in a way we should."
He said his government is working overtime to improve the the aspects of life which are connected to the common people, as he cited the work being done by Railway Ministry and his government's scheme to build toilets.
He said, "We are working to provide house to everybody. Who will benefit from it? Rich? Are we doing it for owner of some TV channel or newspaper? Are we going to build a house for Mukesh Ambani? Who are those people who don't have houses? If I say previous governments are responsible for families without having a roof over their head, then is it a crime? Is it not true that the number of homeless people has increased since independence. Is is bad to dream that every poor family has a house?"