Aim of polls bonds was to curb black money: Modi | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Aim of polls bonds was to curb black money: Modi

By, New Delhi
Apr 16, 2024 04:52 AM IST

“How can our elections be free from this black money? How can there be transparency? We were looking for a way. We found a small way,” PM Modi said to ANI.

Electoral bonds were a way to curb the use of black money in elections and usher in transparency but the Opposition spread lies about it, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday, as he laid out his vision for a developed India, hailed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for celebrating diversity, and expressed confidence of a victory in Lok Sabha elections beginning this week.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during an interview with Asian News International (ANI).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during an interview with Asian News International (ANI).

In an interview to news agency ANI, Modi also underlined his commitment to the poor and middle-class taxpayers, dismissed allegations that federal agencies were working at the government’s behest, and stressed on his administration’s commitment to simultaneous national and state elections.

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“How can our elections be free from this black money? How can there be transparency? I had an honest and pure thought. We were looking for a way. We found a small way,” Modi said, referring to the political funding scheme that was scrapped by the Supreme Court last month.

“In decision-making, we learn and improve… But today we have completely pushed the country towards black money. And that is why I said everyone will regret it. When they think honestly, everyone will regret it,” he said.

“If there were no electoral bonds, then how are you getting a trail of money? Which company gave it? How did they give it? Where did they give it? Now, it could be a matter of good or bad…In decision-making, we learn and improve. It is possible to improve in this too.”

In the 78-minute televised interview, Modi also spoke about his vision for a developed India, young people, and especially taxpayers, highlighting that the number of people filing income-tax returns had doubled in the last decade. “Why is this happening? It is because of trust, that the money the person is giving is being used in the right place. For the sake of development, not for theft and looting,” he said.

He thanked taxpayers and said they should be respected. “Because whatever dreams I have to fulfil, the money that the taxpayer gives me, is going to be from that. And I believe that for the progress of the country, the number of taxpayers should increase and the burden of the taxpayers should be reduced.”

Modi said his government’s fight against corruption will continue, junking Opposition allegations that action by investigative agencies was spoiling the level-playing field needed before elections. “None of the laws in this have been made by my government. Whether it’s ED, CBI or the Election Commission. On top of that, we have improved the Election Commission,” he said, referring to the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Act, 2023 that was cleared by Parliament last year.

According to the new law, the selection process consists of two committees — a three-member search committee led by the law minister and comprising two government secretaries; and a three-member selection committee headed by the PM and consisting of a Union minister recommended by the PM and the leader of Opposition. Two election commissioners were selected using this process last month. Critics say the new law is a departure from a judgment of the Supreme Court in March last year, which directed for inclusion of the Chief Justice of India in the selection panel until Parliament came up with a new law. Challenges to the act are pending before the top court.

“If the Election Commission is formed today, then the Opposition is also in it. Earlier, the Prime Minister used to sign a file and form the Election Commission. And those who were close to their ‘families’, such people became election commissioners,” Modi said.

He said the Opposition was making excuses by levelling allegations against agencies. “There is fear of sin. What fear does an honest person have? They had put my home minister in jail when I was CM,” Modi said, pointing out that 97% of the cases before the Enforcement Directorate involved non-political people.

“ED is doing its job well by seizing cash. They have captured people and cash as well and I am convinced that the corruption has destroyed the country. We should fight against corruption with our full strength. And this is my personal conviction.”

Modi’s comments came in the middle of an election season where Opposition politicians have trained their guns at the BJP over the incarceration of prominent leaders such as Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren over corruption charges. The Opposition alleges that investigative agencies are acting at the behest of the government to create an unequal playing field for the general elections that begin on April 19.

Modi said he was working on his vision for 2047, which marks the centenary of India’s Independence, for the past two years with suggestions of more than 1.5 million people on how they wanted to see India in the coming 25 years, and inputs from universities and non-governmental organisations.

“When I say that I have big plans, no one must be scared. I don’t take decisions to scare or run-over anyone, I take decisions for the wholesome development of the nation. For the development of the people, the aspirations of our youth. I don’t want to delay those things,” he said.

The PM said the vision 2047 will be sent to the states as soon as the polls are over, followed by a meeting of the chief ministers and Niti Aayog to finalise the document. “I don’t want to lose even a minute. Now you must remember, in 2019, very few people pay attention. At that time too, I gave 100 days’ work and went to the election field. And when I came back, Article 370, I did it in 100 days. With repealing of Triple Talaq, I made my sisters free. I did it in the first 100 days.”

Modi underlined his guarantees and contrasted it with the Opposition. “We should remember that we have a tradition of ‘Pran Jaye par Vacchan na Jaye’ I believe that politicians should take ownership. They should take responsibility. What I am saying is my responsibility. And I have given the guarantee from that,” he said, referring to the abrogation of Article 370 and the repealing of instant triple talaq as examples.

He accused the Opposition of having a problem with India’s diversity. “They want to put the country in a singular structure…We worship diversity, we celebrate diversity…Regional aspirations should be given the most attention. This is the philosophy of my party. If you reject the regional aspirations, you can’t make the dream of a developed India come true.”

Modi accused the Opposition of trying to politicise the opening of the Ram Temple due to vote bank politics and said it was a matter of faith for him.

He spoke at length about foreign policy, focusing on the rescue of Indians from conflict regions. “We brought about 5,000 people from Yemen. It was the same in Ukraine. I have a similar relationship with Russia. I have been very friendly with both the presidents. I can publicly say to President Putin that this is not the time for war. I can also say publicly to Ukraine that we should follow the path of dialogue.And this is because, I have credibility. And when I said that so many people from India our youths are trapped. And I need your help. And what can I do for you? Then I said, I have arranged so much. You help me so much. They helped.”

Modi highlighted his government’s efforts to bring in investment, giving the example of Tesla. “We want people to invest in capital. We want the youth of our country to get employment,” he said. “You can see the example of Google, Samsung who came here. Apple came here in a very large way. In Vadodara, work started for the manufacturing of aircraft. For the semiconductors, a very good statement of a leader of Taiwan has also come. That means we are in every field. We want people to transfer technology.”

He also referred to Elon Musk’s upcoming trip to India. “Basically, he [Musk] is a supporter of India. And I just met him. It’s not like that. I went to see his factory in 2015. He was out somewhere and returned especially after cancelling all his work. He showed me everything in his factory. And I understood his vision from him. I went there just now and met him again. And now he is about to come to India. See, in India, in the last 10 years, there is investment from across the world, in every region,” Modi said.

He also reiterated his government’s commitment to simultaneous polls, an idea already backed by a high-level committee headed by former President Ram Nath Kovind.

“In terms of one nation, one election, many people have come on board in the country. All parties. Many people have given their suggestions to the committee. Positive suggestions have come and very innovative suggestions have come. And the country will benefit a lot if we are able to implement this report.”

The Congress hit back at Modi, criticising him for taking credit for the disclosure of the donors in the electoral bonds scheme. “PM introduced anonymity to electoral financing, presided over large-scale corruption, and attempted to cover it up through SBI. Only the Supreme Court’s strong intervention forced SBI to reveal who donated how much to which political party,” said senior leader Jairam Ramesh on X.

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