Narendra Modi
File image of Narendra Modi | Vijay Verma/PTI
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In an interview with news agency ANI, he also criticised West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee for her ‘civil war’ remark on NRC.

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi lashed out at West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s comment that Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise may stoke civil war, telling news agency ANI in an interview that it suggested the Trinamool Congress chief had “lost faith in herself”.

“Only those who have lost faith in themselves, fear loss of popular support and lack faith in our institutions can use words like ‘civil war’, ‘bloodbath’ and ‘desh ke tukde tukde’,” he said.

Modi added that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had to “bow down to public pressure” on illegal immigration and sign the Assam Accord in 1985. He said while the Congress let the “problem fester” for “vote-bank politics”, the BJP did not think “about politics, but about the people”.

In the interview, Modi also addressed the criticism often leveled at him for his silence on crime against minorities and women.

Also read: Why spend Rs 1,300 crore on NRC if you won’t send illegal immigrants back, asks former CEC

“It would be a great travesty to reduce these incidents to mere statistics and then indulge in politics over them. That shows a kind of perverse mindset that looks at violence and criminality as something to be milked, instead of unitedly opposing,” he said.

Hailing the NDA’s ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign for improving sex ratio in states, he added that the government had never shied away from “tough measures to ensure gender justice”, citing the triple talaq bill as an example. The law, which has been criticised by the opposition as hasty, seeks to criminalise the practice of instant divorce, which is considered legitimate among some sections of Muslims.

Modi also sought to address fears that the BJP might demolish caste-based quotas, saying “reservation is here to stay”. “Maximum MPs from the SC, ST and OBC communities are from the BJP. Maximum MLAs from SC, ST and OBC communities are from the BJP,” he added.

Asked about reports of unease among certain members of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, he cited the coalition’s victory in the recent no-confidence proceedings and the election for the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman’s post to dismiss them as “rumours”.

He also said the proposed mahagatbandhan or grand alliance of opposition parties was nothing but “the politics of survival” at work. “Parties with opposing ideologies and methods have come together because they know that their electoral arithmetic based on caste, class, community and religion cannot withstand the chemistry of development,” he added.

Problems that followed the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) are a subject on which the BJP has drawn repeated criticism from the Congress. But he defended the tax, and countered Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s reference to the GST regime as ‘Gabbar Singh tax’, saying, “People who have seen only dacoits around them will naturally think of dacoits only.”

However, the PM refused to comment on Rahul’s internet-breaking hug during the no-confidence proceedings, just saying that people “only need to watch the wink” that followed to know he was being “childish”.

Also read: Guwahati advocate asks CJI Misra why Justice Gogoi, an Assamese, is hearing NRC case


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