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NDA will provide 100 million new jobs: Narendra Modi

In an informal chat, the Gujarat Chief Minister talked about NDA, his caste identity, hate speech, etc.

MADHAV NALAPAT  NEW DELHI | 22nd Jun 2013

arendra Modi, BJP's campaign committee chairperson and front-runner for the Prime Minister's post should the NDA win the 2014 general elections, told The Sunday Guardian that the National Democratic Alliance would generate a 100 million extra jobs in five years compared to the 3 million extra jobs created by the UPA in its first six years in power. He pointed out that the NDA had created 60 million jobs during 1998-2004.

The Gujarat Chief Minister said that the "people of India have the drive and ability needed to make our country prosperous, if only they had a government which encouraged them rather than held them back, a government that trusted them rather than subjecting them to restrictions and persecution". He smiled away any discussion about his own prospects for leading such a government, merely saying that "such matters will get decided at the appropriate time, and the decision will be what is best for the alliance and the nation".

Speaking informally to this correspondent on 19 June at his office in the state capital, Modi appeared relaxed and confident. Previous to this discussion, a Muslim family had called on him and spent 30 minutes speaking with the CM. Those close to the CM challenged critics to point out whether there has been any discrimination against officials belonging to the minority community in the state. A key aide said that "by now, it is becoming clear that such charges are intended to create a mood of fear designed to stampede the minorities into voting for those who have let them down for decades". He said that there was no question of Chief Minister Modi adopting a "sectarian" agenda during the ensuing campaign, adding that "we regard and treat people of all faiths as the same and do not discriminate among them the way others do", and that such a policy was needed in order to prevent communal passions from boiling over.

When the discussion continued on the lifestyles of political leaders and their families, Narendra Modi pointed out that his brothers "owned only bicycles rather than SUVs" and said that he was "proud and happy" that they had cheerfully accepted that he as CM could not help them the way some other Central and state leaders had helped their own families in India and abroad. He did not know why the media in India ignored the lifestyles of the close relatives of the powerful. "Let it be said that freedom of speech is important," Modi told this correspondent, adding that he had never tried to clamp down on the numerous hate messages about him on Internet, print and television. "India should lead the world in freedom of speech rather than be having some of the most restrictive information technology laws in the world," he added.

When it was pointed out to him that Bihar BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi had referred to the Gujarat CM's caste background, Narendra Modi said that to him, "caste was never a factor". However, he had "no hesitation — and indeed some pride — in revealing that (he) came from the most backward of backward castes", adding that "caste, region and religion should not matter in issues of who is to lead government".

He refused to get drawn into a discussion on the criticism made against him by BJP parliamentary party chairperson L.K. Advani. An aide said that he wished that L.K. Advani had mentioned his objections to the CM first before going public, "but Mr Modi himself spoke in words of regard" for the MP from Gandhinagar.

Although his words were not intended for the record as the meeting was informal, Chief Minister Modi was clear that he would campaign "not on issues of identity but of governance". He saw the last decade as a "wasted" one and said that it was "the duty of all those concerned about the future of the country to work unitedly to ensure that the UPA not return to office a third time". The people "will not forgive those who by their words and deeds help the UPA during the coming elections by dividing opposition votes," he ended.

 
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