We will walk the extra mile to allay fears: Narendra Modi

Posted By: IANS
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New Delhi, May 4: BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has termed the comments on Kashmir by the Pakistani Army chief as "highly provocative" and wished the outgoing UPA government took a "stronger stand on this uninvited interference".

He said the reported statement was tantamount to "interference in the internal affairs of our country".

Asked to respond to Pakistan Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif's claim that Kashmir was a "jugular vein" for Islamabad, Modi told IANS in an e-mailed response: "I see these comments as highly provocative and I think they amount to interference in the internal affairs of our country. I wish the government of India takes a stronger stand on this uninvited interference."

Modi also dismissed the perceived worries of some countries in the region of his rise to power.

"I can only say that all such perceptions are either misguided or arising out of malafide intent on the part of certain vested interest groups inimical to the progress of India. Apparently there are several people who cannot reconcile themselves to the emergence of a strong and resilient India," he said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, in its Lok Sabha election manifesto, has promised to "reboot and reorient the foreign policy goals, content and process, in a manner that locates India's global strategic engagement in a new paradigm and on a wider canvas".

Foreign relations not tied to individuals: Modi

In a statement that could allay US concerns on future ties with India if a BJP-led government comes to power, its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has said relations between two nations "should not and cannot be influenced by incidents related to individuals".

Modi, who is viewed as a strong contender to become prime minister after the Lok Sabha election, also said that India has the "right to conduct foreign policy affairs guided by the supremacy of national interest".

Asked by IANS in an email interview if his government's foreign policy would be less pro-West in case the BJP-led NDA was voted to power, Modi said: "Relations between two nations should not and cannot be influenced by incidents related to individuals."

The US had denied Modi a visa in 2005 over the 2002 Gujarat riots in which over 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed under his watch.

Outgoing US envoy Nancy Powell softened Washington's stance towards a politically rising Modi by meeting him in Gandhinagar in February this year.

Modi also said that India's foreign relations cannot be allowed to be influenced by its ties with particular countries.

"Similarly, relations between India and another nation cannot be predicated with our relations with other countries. We have a right to conduct our foreign policy affairs guided by the supremacy of national interest. We will continue to do so," Modi told IANS.

India has been viewed under the UPA dispensation of being pro-US, toeing Washington's line on Iran earlier and also being influenced by it to toe a softer line on Pakistan.

My government will focus on manufacturing, infrastructure: Modi

A BJP-led government will take speedy decisions, focus on reviving economic growth, give priority to infrastructure and manufacturing, and protect the interest of farmers in land acquisition, the party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has said.

In an e-mail interview with IANS, Modi outlined his economic vision and said a National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government will seek to clear projects in fast-track mode, push for single-window clearance system, make procedures swift, ensure time-bound delivery and better coordination with the states for faster project clearances.

He said the "present state of policy paralysis" cannot be permitted to continue.

"We have to clear projects in a fast track mode. If there are environment related concerns, they need to be suitably addressed, but all decisions must be taken in a time frame. We cannot permit the present state of policy paralysis and indecisiveness to continue for long," Modi told IANS.

"Whatever little growth we are having that can also be called as a jobless growth. This is because the UPA government has never given adequate emphasis on the manufacturing sector," Modi said.

The Gujarat chief minister said an NDA government will "focus on reviving the economy and growth".

"Our focus is going to be clearly on infrastructure and the manufacturing sector. It will not only encourage investment, but will also produce the required employment opportunities," he said.

He said there was a need to revive investor sentiment and the NDA government will move towards a policy of faster and time-bound project clearances to give a fillip to manufacturing.

On land acquisition policy, he said the first priority has to be on protecting the interest of farmers whose land was being acquired.

"They have to be adequately compensated as per the market rates. As far as possible, we should go through the private purchase route rather than compulsory acquisition. Even where compulsory acquisition is resorted to, the compensation should be decided as consent between the farmer and the acquiring authority," Modi told IANS.

He said a "win-win situation" was possible and farmers should benefit "from development that comes".

Answering a query about priorities in infrastructure, Modi said there was need to focus on areas such as highways, railways, ports and power. He said a BJP-led government will revive the National Highway Development programme.

"It is unfortunate that the very good beginning made by the (earlier) NDA government (of Atal Bihari Vajpayee) was not continued by the UPA in right earnest. We will bring back the focus by connecting the country through a network of good quality highways," he said.

Modi said the government will start work on a high speed rail network.

"The railways have been ignored by successive Congress governments. We plan to begin a journey of transformation to take the railways at par with the most modern rail networks in the world."

Affirming the party's opposition to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multibrand retail, Modi said the party was in favour of FDI which leads to growth, employment opportunities and sharing of new technology.

"I would reiterate our party's commitment to encouraging FDI in various sectors to boost economic growth and to create employment opportunities for our youth," Modi told IANS.

We will walk the extra mile to allay fears: Narendra Modi

Saying "change is in the air", BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has said a government headed by him "will go the extra mile" to give justice to all and a dispensation "where nobody needs to be apprehensive or fearful".

In detailed responses to an e-mail interview with IANS, Modi said a BJP-led NDA government led by him will be "result-oriented", will not hesitate in taking decisions, will work day and night and will be a "truly representative, transparent and sensitive government".

He said he was confident that the "BJP and NDA may end up doing better than the best predictions among all opinion polls", adding that his priority, if he comes to power, will be to "restore confidence in the government, bring back credibility in the system and take effective steps to bridge the trust deficit that exists today".

Modi, seen as a strong contender for the nation's top administrative job, said he expects the party's performance in states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, where it has traditionally not been very strong, to be "the real surprise in these elections".

"We expect to do very well in these states," Modi said in the interview in which he responded to range of questions that were sent to him over two days and on which, his aides said, he personally deliberated and responded, working late in the night on halts in Ahmedabad between cross-country campaign forays.

To a specific question as to how he would address the fears of the minorities, particularly Muslims, about his government, Modi told IANS: "We are committed to provide a government where nobody needs to be apprehensive or fearful. We are committed to go the extra mile to ensure that not only are we fair and just, but that we are also perceived to be fair and just."

To another question about opposition charges that riots may break out during a Modi government's tenure, he riposted that "today's India no longer responds to such fear-mongering" and some people were "spreading insecurity to get votes".

About how different a BJP-led NDA government was going to be from the UPA, Modi said: "Our approach is going to be drastically different from the UPA's approach. The UPA government's approach was a legislation-based approach wherein they would just try to wish away problems by legislating against them. It was wishful thinking at best and lazy governance at worst.

"You cannot solve serious problems of poverty and unemployment by just coming out with pieces of legislation without backing it up with a concrete action plan to implement the provisions," said the Bharatiya Janata Party veteran.

"Our focus is going to be on time-bound implementation of various initiatives, where priority would be given to reviving the economy and growth," Modi told IANS.

He said his government would "revive investor sentiment and start taking decisions to clear various pending investment proposals".

"Our focus is going to be clearly on infrastructure and the manufacturing sector. It will not only encourage investment, but will also produce the required employment opportunities."

To a question on a possible Modi cabinet, he said the BJP had enough talent and experience, particularly naming Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha respectively, in "bringing important issues to the notice of the people".

He said the "single biggest achievement" of the Lok Sabha election campaign has been "to move away from a feeling of cynicism and pessimism to a feeling of hope and optimism".

He blamed the opposition parties "staring at defeat" for indulging "in abusive language which has reduced the discourse of the campaign by several notches" but refused to apportion any blame to his own people.

Modi said: "I think it is their (opposition) single-minded focus on somehow attacking Modi and stopping him which has brought a lot of support from the people of India to me."

IANS (Interview)

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