Indian Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi sought to allay the fears of minorities, particularly Muslims, saying nobody needed to be apprehensive of a government headed by him, Indian media reported on Monday.
“We are committed to providing a government where nobody needs to be apprehensive or fearful. We are committed to go the extra mile to ensure that not only are we fair and just, but that we are also perceived to be fair and just,” said Modi, during an interview with a private news agency.
Asked about opposition charges that riots may break out during a Modi-led government, he said that “today’s India no longer responds to such fear-mongering” and that some people were “spreading insecurity to get votes”.
Modi said he would have been “surprised” had Ahmed Patel, Indian National Congress Chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary, accepted affiliation with him.
“These days Patel stays away from me. In fact, I would have been surprised if he had agreed to anything that I said,” Modi had said during an interview.
In the interview with an Indian television network, Modi had said that Patel was among the “best friends I have in the Congress but not now. I had a good friendship with him but he now runs away from me and doesn’t take my calls.” However, this portion of the interview had been edited out.
Patel strongly denied Modi’s claims of friendship and said he would “quit public life” if the BJP leader could prove that Patel had gone to his house after he became Gujarat chief minister.
Exuding confidence of victory, Modi said the “BJP and National Democratic Alliance (NDA) may end up doing better than the best predictions among all opinion polls”, adding that if he came to power, his priority would be to “restore confidence in the government, bring back credibility in the system and take effective steps to bridge the trust deficit that exists today”.
Modi said he expects the BJP’s performance in states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, where it has traditionally not been very strong, to be “the real surprise in these elections”.
About how different a BJP-led government was going to be from the present Indian government, Modi said, “Our approach is going to be drastically different from the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)’s approach. The UPA government’s approach was a legislation-based approach wherein they would just try to wish away problems by legislating against them. It was wishful thinking at best and lazy governance at worst.”
“You cannot solve serious problems of poverty and unemployment by just coming out with pieces of legislation without backing it up with a concrete action plan to implement the provisions. Our focus is going to be on time-bound implementation of various initiatives, where priority would be given to reviving the economy and growth,” said Modi.
He said his government would “revive investors’ sentiments and start taking decisions to clear various pending investment proposals”.