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20 April, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 20 April, 2019 01:29:16 AM
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I still consider myself a challenger: Modi

THE TIMES OF INDIA, New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi exuded confidence about a “massive mandate” when he met TOI amid the ongoing Lok Sabha polls, saying he still sees himself as a “challenger” like in 2014, rather than an incumbent, as he remains committed to combatting corruption, dynasty and terrorism.

Emphasising his ‘change agent’ image, the PM said, “A ‘chalta hai’ attitude held our nation’s progress hostage for a long time. I am challenging it. Forces of negativity try to obstruct an aspirational India. I am challenging them.”

He made light of the SP-BSP alliance in UP, widely seen as the biggest impediment to BJP’s return to office, saying it was an unconvincing combination. “Instead of vision they are busy with division. SP has repeatedly accused BSP of loot and corruption. BSP has repeatedly accused SP of goondaism and bad governance. When there’s so much history between them, how can there be any chemistry?”

Asked about the elections turning into a referendum on him, Modi suggested that it had to do with the opposition’s obsession with him. Simultaneously, however, he also said BJP’s projection of his leadership reflected its confidence in the government’s achievements. “It is to BJP’s credit that it has gone to people in the name of Modi government’s track record, and unlike the previous government, the party is not afraid to ask for votes in the name of its leader.”

The PM said, “2014 was an election which the Bharatiya Janata Party fought, along with its allies in the NDA. 2019 is an election which is being fought by the Bharatiya Janta (Indian people).”

 He denied BJP has focused on ‘hyper-nationalism’ after the Balakot air strike to divert attention from ‘real issues’. “You can check any speech of mine. A large portion is dedicated to issues of development. However, it never makes headlines. Talking about real issues, can we consider decades of terrorism and death of our soldiers as not being a ‘real issue’? Deshbhakti is not a disease. Just as hyper-secularism was invented to strike at the root of India’s culture and ethos, similarly the terminology of hyper-nationalism has been invented to portray deshbhakti in poor light.”

Asked what he would do differently if re-elected, the PM said, “It would be good if I speak on this after May 23.” Taking a swipe at the “knee-jerk” promises made by the Congress, he said, “My agenda is not built on wishful thinking to get votes. It will take shape on the foundation of a solid economy, entrepreneurial workforce, secured and healthy citizenry, and futuristic infrastructural development.”

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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