Union home minister Amit Shah on Wednesday hailed Narendra Modi as the most successful Prime Minister in the country after independence, saying he has changed the “size and scale” of government schemes that have impacted the lives of the poorest of the poor.
“While drafting policies, he looked at the scale and decided that the schemes should be for all. Earlier, schemes were designed with a certain number of beneficiaries in mind, but he (Modi) said they should be for all,” Shah said, while addressing a conference on “Delivering Democracy: Reviewing two decades of Narendra Modi as head of government”, organised by a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-linked think tank, Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini.
The home minister also took pot shots at the Opposition for accusing the government of copying their schemes. “The Congress says construction of toilets was their idea, but how many were built (during their time)? About 13 crore (130 million) were left to be made.” He used the schemes for construction of toilets and housing for all as a case in point to demonstrate the Modi government’s intent to benefit all sections.
Iterating that PM Modi enjoys the support of the people and that under his leadership in 2014, the BJP became the first non-Congress party to win majority on its own, Shah said: “A leader has to handle development, preserve and take forward the culture of the country and ensure security. All this can be done by a leader who is backed by people. Only those who come from the ground and feel the pain of the poor can change things.”
Commenting on Modi’s two decades in power, first at three-term chief minister of Gujarat and then as the prime minister for the past seven years, Shah said when Modi took over as the CM with no prior experience of governance, no one was ready to believe he would be successful. “But his reforms and changes on the ground were defined differently,” he said.
Shah, who has worked closely with Modi, said it was based on his governance model in Gujarat where he brought in reforms in education, agriculture and the power sector that the BJP chose him to be its prime ministerial candidate in 2013. “People felt that if it can happen in Gujarat, it can happen elsewhere,” he added.
The Union minister said that in 2014 when the Manmohan Singh government was in power, there was a “policy paralysis everywhere” and every member of the cabinet thought of themselves as the prime minister.
“India’s position internationally was dipping…and it seemed our democratic system will collapse. That’s when the BJP decided to make him PM. There were many protests, especially in Delhi. But a change happened. (People’s) anger changed into hope when his name came up,” Shah said.
Dubbing Modi as the most successful PM after independence, Shah said he delinked India’s security and defence policy from its foreign policy and through surgical strikes against terror launch pads operating across the border sent out a stern message that the country’s internal security cannot be tampered with. In 2019, India carried out air strikes in Pakistan’s Balakot in retaliation to the terror attacks in Pulwama. In 2016, surgical strikes were carried out across the LoC in response to the terror attack at an army base camp in Uri.
Shah referred to the Centre’s handling of law and order in the wake of decisions like reading down of Article 370 and 35 (A) and after the Ram temple verdict, saying while a lot of accusations are thrown at the BJP, no breach of law or riots took place.
He also lashed out at critics of schemes such as demonetisation, saying, “Policies are made in the national interest…which are good for the people and not just to please people.”
He also reiterated that the onus of educating people lies on the government, as no country can progress with an army of illiterates.
“I have been trolled before but I’d like to say this again that no nation can progress with an army of illiterates…a person who does not know his constitutional rights cannot contribute as much to the nation’s development,” Shah said, while clarifying that his statement was misinterpreted earlier.
Earlier in an interview to a television channel, Shah had said illiterate people are a burden on the country.
Former Maharashtra chief minister and BJP leader Devender Fadnavis, who also spoke at the event, said, “India has many management gurus, but for the first time in Indian polity, there emerged a governance guru. What he started as the Gujarat CM, and now as PM, has been a journey of going upwards in governance.”
(Can we get any reaction from the Congress?)
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