New Delhi, Jun 11 (PTI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said his government would focus on uplift of the poor while working for development of all sections, including Muslims, and promised to take along every political party and state to make the country prosperous and powerful.
In his first speech in the Lok Sabha, he talked about his ”dreams” of ensuring the country's progress and converting the image from “scam India” to “skills India” through “cooperative federalism”.
He specifically mentioned his ideas about improving the agriculture and infrastructure sectors and for which best practices of any state would be adopted.
He said the foremost priority of his government would be uplift of the poor and ensuring that nobody is without a house with water, electricity and toilet by 2022, when the country celebrates 75th year of Independence.
Replying to the debate on Motion of Thanks to the President's Address, Modi asserted, “We can bring about change” but “I don't want to move forward without you (Opposition). I don't have to move forward on the basis of numbers but on the basis of collective decision-making.”
He referred to apprehensions expressed by some members over the fate of minorities and said his government would work for the development of Muslims also as he believes that “if one organ of the body remains weak, the body cannot be termed as healthy. We are committed to this. We don't see it as appeasement.”
In his hour-long speech heard in rapt attention, the Prime Minister rejected the Opposition's charge that Bharatiya Janata Party had become arrogant after the landslide victory in the Lok Sabha elections.
”Victory gives lessons and we must learn. It teaches us humility,” he said and assured the House that he would take the “blessings of seniors” so that “we are saved from becoming arrogant”.
Invoking Mahatma Gandhi repeatedly, Modi said, “Let us dream and make effort to fulfill those dreams. There will be difficulties but with your (opposition) co-operation we will move forward.”
”There is a need for modernisation of farming practices. Faster we bring in technology, better it would be for productivity because the number of people is increasing but the land is shrinking,” Modi said.
”We have to increase the soil productivity. For this, we need to expand the research work in our universities. It has been so many years, there has been no research on pulses. Pulses (production) has become challenge before us,” he added.
He also highlighted the need for use information technology in agriculture productivity and proper use of railway for transportation of farm products to food deficit area.
The Prime Minister also said the country needs real-time data on agri products to deal with price rise.
Underlining that decisions have to be taken with great courage, Modi made it clear that he would not be discouraged by criticism. “We welcome criticism. The more the criticism, the better it is... It is for the welfare of the country...In a democracy, criticism gives strength and it will guide us.”
Invoking Mahatma Gandhi repeatedly, the Prime Minister stressed the need for converting development as a mass movement like the Father of the Nation had done with the freedom struggle.
He also had some assuring words for the states as he said, ”We don't believe in big brother attitude (towards states). We believe in Cooperative Federalism.”
While talking about “musalman bhai”, Modi said his government would have a “focussed activity” to change their lives as they cannot be left behind in development.
He took a dig at those questioning how the agenda outlined in the President's address would be implemented, saying it was ”natural” for people to be apprehensive after “an atmosphere of despair” for so many years.
The Prime Minister said he had faced similar questions and apprehensions even when he first became the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2001 but he had shown them that it can be done.
”We will leave no stone unturned in implementing the roadmap outlined by the President,” he said, underlining that the President's address has a lot of sanctity. Referring to the big mandate his party got in the elections, he said the government is the “custodian of people's hope” and has the responsibility to deliver.
”Chhoti moti nok jhonk to hoti hi hai (small exchanges do occur in Parliament between government and opposition),” he said but added that he will carry all parties along in taking the country forward.
The Prime Minister said several sections of the country have been left behind in development. ”I am not alleging that no government tried to bring change in the lives of backward classes, tribals, etc. Money was spent but still there is no change,” he said, adding this has to be changed.
”By 2022, we should do one task. There should be nobody in the country who does not have a house with water, electricity, toilet. This is the minimum task we should do.
”If we make programme for 8-9 years, remembering freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh and Rajguru, we can provide house to all. If we can do this if we have commitment,” he said.
Referring to recent incidents of rape in Uttar Pradesh, including Badaun, he said strong actions should be taken to stop violence against them.
”For whom should the government be? For educated people or few others. Government should be for the poor. If rich want to educate their children, they can send anywhere. If rich fall ill, hundreds of doctors at service.
”So the foremost responsibility of the government should be to listen to the poor and work for them. If we do not work for the poor, the people will never pardon us,” Modi said.
Talking about his idea of alleviating poverty, he said his government would empower the poor so that they can fight against poverty and come out of it.
”The biggest weapon is education, end to blind faith. If we succeed in bringing poor out of poverty, then they will not be dependent on anyone,” he said.
Mentioning his idea about development of rural areas, he said there should be focus on improving agriculture sector through application of science and research.
He also expressed commitment to provide 24-hour electricity to villages, internet connectivity and other facilities so that the youth get education as well as employment there and have no reason to leave their homes.
In this context, he cited Sikkim as an example