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Modi rejects linking Muslims with overpopulation,  says poverty drives population discussion

Modi rejects linking Muslims with overpopulation says poverty drives population discussion

News18’s Exclusive interview with PM Narendra Modi

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the day he differentiated between Hindus and Muslims, he would not be fit for public life, pointing out that any discussion about people having more children must not be linked with Muslims as there are many poor families whose children are unable to receive education regardless of which community they belonged to.

When asked during an interview about what was the need to describe Muslims as infiltrators and those who produce more children, the Prime Minister said  “I am surprised. Who told you to link Muslims with overpopulation when there is a discussion on childbearing? Why do you unfairly treat Muslims? The situation is the same in poor families here as well. Their children are also unable to receive an education regardless of which community they belong to. I have not said Hindu or Muslim; I have said that you should only have as many children as you can afford to raise. Do not create such a situation,” he added.

To a question whether the Muslims would vote for him this time, PM Modi said he strongly believed that the people of the country would vote for him. “The day I differentiate between Hindus and Muslims, I will not be fit for public life. If I provide a house, I don’t see caste or religion. If there are 60 lakh beneficiaries, then all of them should receive 100% sanitation. True social justice means 100% sanitation, and true secularism means that if someone gets something on Monday, then next Monday my number should come up,” he added.

Replying to a question about the perception of his relation with the Muslim community, particularly when many Muslims are supporting him, the Prime Minister said, “This issue is not about Muslims. Individual Muslims might be with Modi to some extent, but there is a certain influence, which orders them what to do, and what not to do, based on which they make decisions. As far as Modi is concerned, many Muslim families are living next to my house. We used to celebrate Eid at our home, and other festivals too,” he added.

“In our house, food would come from all the Muslim families during Eid. During Muharram, there used to be a procession, like circumambulating temples. Even today, I have many old Muslim friends. After the 2002 Godhra incident, my image was greatly tarnished,” the prime minister said.

Pointing out that once he had trained 30 workers and taught them how to conduct surveys, not just number-based surveys but also how to communicate, PM Modi said there is a place called Manek Chowk in Ahmedabad where people used to go to eat. “All the traders there are Muslims, and the buyers are Hindus. It’s a very unique market. It gets so crowded that you can’t walk. If you go inside during Diwali, you can’t get out in less than two hours. All kinds of things are sold in that market. I said I wanted to survey that market. Send the boys there, and I used to take reports every day. They used to go there and ask, “How is Diwali?” They used to say, “If Modi is there, how can Diwali be good?” They would say, “Don’t take Modi’s name; this is a child, isn’t it? If his mother hears, she won’t feed him at night.”

“They said, Modi didn’t come; until then, he didn’t go to school. Modi came, so he’s going to school. These are Diwali holidays, so he came to my shop.” He never used to come to the shop before. His mother was so happy that her children’s lives were improving. They say, “Don’t speak against Modi in my house.” Around 90% of the shopkeepers may have different arguments, but the answer was the same,” he added.

Recounting a meeting with some Muslim women from Johapura, a locality inhabited by 3-4 lakh Muslims, PM Modi said they came to him to express their appreciation and discuss certain matters. He said they commended his actions regarding electricity management, to which he responded by admitting his initial scepticism. Despite his reservations, they insisted that his actions were commendable, citing the improved electricity situation in their area.

He elaborated that they explained how the presence of unauthorized persons in each neighbourhood facilitated the illicit extraction and resale of electricity, by laying illegal cables, leading to financial losses for the residents. They asserted that there has been a noticeable improvement in the regularity of electricity supply, which they attributed to the measures implemented by his administration.

PM Modi pointed out that his actions were, in fact, beneficial to the community. He emphasized that while numerous incidents shaped his experiences, he refrained from publicizing them for personal gain. “In my life, there have been hundreds of incidents, but I don’t market them. Why? Because my mantra has always been “Development for all.” I don’t work for vote banks, which is wrong. I will call it wrong,” he added.

To a question whether the Muslims would vote for him this time, PM Modi said he strongly believed that the people of the country would vote for him. “The day I differentiate between Hindus and Muslims, I will not be fit for public life. If I provide a house, I don’t see caste or religion. If there are 60 lakh beneficiaries, then all of them should receive 100% sanitation. True social justice means 100% sanitation, and true secularism means that if someone gets something on Monday, then next Monday my number should come up,” he added.

Replying to a question as to what the opposition would do if his government were to secure 400 seats in the ongoing general election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has maintained that he is deeply committed to democracy and wants a strong opposition but they may not secure enough seats to constitute a recognized opposition, leading to suggestions that smaller parties could merge into the Congress.

“Strength doesn’t equate to obstructing Parliament or causing chaos, or engaging in undemocratic activities. Unfortunately, over the past decade, the opposition has failed significantly. They haven’t achieved much, even in their role as the opposition. If they couldn’t succeed in opposition, how could they govern effectively? India requires a robust democracy with strong opposition”.

He said that Sharad Pawar had proposed a constructive idea for strengthening the opposition, which he welcomed. “He suggested consolidating all small parties into the Congress. Whether these parties choose to merge with the Congress or not, and where such a merger would occur, is not my concern,” Modi remarked. “However, this suggestion itself implies their uncertainty about securing enough seats, and if such a merger were to happen, it would establish them as a legitimate opposition,” he asserted.

“I’ve introduced changes to the law. We have numerous schemes and committees where the leader of the opposition can participate, and important decisions are made. I’ve amended the law to ensure there is an opposition leader, who will be the head of the largest opposition party. This demonstrates my commitment to democracy; otherwise, I wouldn’t have taken such steps,” he added.

In response to a question, the Prime Minister expressed his belief that the ghats of Kashi are the identity of Kashi. He emphasized the need for modernity at the ghats, which led to the conception of the Namami Gange Ghat project. He noted that these days, a large number of people gather at the ghats in the evening, bridging the old and the new. People visit to witness the transformation, understanding the significance of Namami Gange, he added.

Addressing why he doesn’t tire, PM Modi reflected on his past, stating that as long as his mother was alive, he felt his existence was biological. “After my mother’s passing, I see all these experiences combined. I am convinced that I have been sent by the Parmatma. Leftist people might ridicule me, but I am certain that this level of energy didn’t come from the biological body. This energy wants to work through me, hence I have been endowed with abilities, capabilities, kindness, and inspiration. It also provides the capacity to make efforts.”

“I am nothing but a tool chosen by the divine to work through me. Therefore, whenever I act, I believe it is the divine’s will being accomplished through me. Forget worrying about your name, I am solely dedicated to the divine. Since I cannot physically see the divine, I am also a worshipper, a devotee. I consider the 140 crore countrymen as manifestations of the divine. They are my gods,” he concluded.

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