Completing a full circle with his 2019 Lok Sabha election campaign, 49 days after his first election interview with Republic Media Network's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday spoke exclusively to Republic Media Network's Executive Editor Abhishek Kapoor in his final election campaign interview.
Among the diverse political issues and the controversies on which he elaborated, Prime Minister Modi gave his most detailed response to Rahul Gandhi's charge that even though PM Modi insulted his family during the election campaign (reference to the 'Bhrashtachari No. 1 remark on former PM Rajiv Gandhi' and the controversy over the use of the INS Viraat as a 'personal taxi'), he would never speak ill of PM Modi's parents.
PM Modi said, "I would want Mr Rahul Gandhi, the president of Congress party, whose family's four generations have given Prime Ministers to this country - with folded hands I make an appeal to him - Mr Rahul Gandhi I request you not to show any empathy towards my parents. If you have anything against my parents, you say it out loud. If you have some facts, if you want to write a book on it then I am ready to bear the expenses for it. If you want to conduct a press conference, even then I'm ready to bear the cost. If my parents have done any damage to this country or the society, then I invite you, if you have any information, place it before the country. I implore you to not have any sympathy towards me."
The Prime Minister also demarcated that the debate he had triggered over former PM Rajiv Gandhi had to do with his work as a Prime Minister and a public figure and that such discussion was not out of bounds for a democracy like India:
"Secondly, you must know this, my parents were never in public life. Even then, if they've committed any sin in their personal lives, I give you all the right. I request you to not show any empathy towards my parents. Be as harsh as possible towards them. If you have facts against them that is. Another thing, who is your mother, who is your father, that's not my concern at all, it's not my prerogative. Any Prime Minister of this country, any person who has held public office, whatever he has done, that will be discussed today and for the next 100 years. Our country is a democratic country," he added.
(Mein chahunga ki shreemaan Rahul Gandhi, Congress party ke adhyaksh mohoday jinke parivaar ki chaar peedhi Pradhan Mantri padh par rahi hai - Main aapse haath jodkar bhinti karta hu, shreemaan Rahul ji main apko aagrah karta hu ke apko mere mata pita ke upar koi daya karne ki jarurat nahi hai. Agar mere mata pita ke khilaf aapke paas kuch bhi ho toh aap khul kar ke boliye. Apke paas kuch tathya ho, uski koi kitaab nikalni ho toh uska kharcha mein apni taraf se dene ke liye taiyaar hu. Aap kahi press conference karna chahate ho toh uska kharcha dene ke liye bhi mein taiyaar hu. Mere mata pita ne iss desh ka iss samajh ka koi bhi nuksaan kiya ho toh mein apko nimantran deta hu, ki apke paas koi bhi jankaari ho, desh ke samne rakhiye. Krupa karke mujhpe daya maat kijiye. Doosra apko pata hona chahiye mere mata pita ne, koi bhi public life mein kabhi the nahi, fir bhi vyaktigat jeevan mein bhi koi gunha kiya ho, taklif ki ho toh apko pura haak mein deta hu, sarvajanik roop se mein deta hu, kripa karke mere maa baap paar aap daya maat khayiye jitni bhi khatoor tha se unki burai kar sakte ho karo, apke paas Tathya hone chahiye. Kon apka mata hai, kon apka pita hai, unhone kya kiya ye mera vishay hai hi nahi, ye mera kaam nahi hai. Desh ke kisi bhi Pradha Mantri ne usne jo bhi kiya hai uski charcha aaj bhi hogi, anewale sau saal baad bhi hoga.)
Furthermore, the Prime Minister said that India is a country wherein scholars have criticised everyone from Lord Ram to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and that feeling bad for being criticised is not the 'tradition of the country'
"Even today, there are scholars in this country who discuss Lord Ram's rule and criticise it as well, they talk about Lord Mahavir's teachings, they talk about Gautam Buddha's decisions, they talk about Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi as well. And that is why it is not wrong to discuss someone. That has never been India's culture. But you don't show any empathy towards my parents. If you have any masala, on 19th at 5 pm polling will end, but even then I am telling you, if you have anything, go ahead. If you want, I will organise a sabha for you," he added.
(Humara desh loktantra aur udarwadi desh hai aaj bhi humara desh mein aise vidvaan hai jo Bhagwaan Ram ke leader ki charcha bhi karte hai aur alochna karte hai, Bhagwan Mahavir ki alochna karte hai, Bhagwan Buddha ke nirnoki alochna karte hai, Gandhi ki bhi karte hai, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi ki bhi karte hai aur isiliye humare desh mein kisiki aloch hona koi bura manna, ye Bharat ki parampara kabhi nahi rahi hai, lekin, mere mata pita ke liye kripa karke aap daya maat dikhayi ye. Apke paas jo masala hai, abhi 19 tarik ko polling baki hai, 5 baje prachaar band hota hai toh bhi mein chahata hu ki aap karo, aap kehete ho toh mein sabha organise karta hu.)
PM Modi emphasised that his remarks weren't personal and that he bore no animosity towards Rajiv Gandhi:
"It's not my job to speak about their personal life. For every son their father is respectable, even for me he is equally respectable as a father. I have no problem. What is my animosity? It's not like when I sold tea and his father came to my shop and drank tea but did not pay. Do I have a fight with him? No, I don't have a fight," he added.
(Vyaktigat sawal hi nahi uthta hai, mera kaam nahi hai. Unke pitaji, kisi bhi bete ko apne pitaji sammaniya hote hai, humare liye bhi utne hi samanya hai, pita ke roop mein. Hume koi problem nahi hai. Aur humari kya dushmani hai bhai? Mein Chai bechtatha, unke pitaji mere dukaan pe chai pikaar mujhe paise nahi diye aisi thoda hai. Mera koi jagda hai kya? Mera koi jhagda nahi hai.)