Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a mega 'Main Bhi Chowkidar' event at New Delhi's Talkatora stadium on Sunday, with 5000 people including senior Cabinet Ministers in attendance at the venue.
With less than two weeks to go for the crucial Lok Sabha elections, PM Modi answered a range of questions posed to him by people in the crowd, broaching key political topics.
During the course of the interaction, one of the questions he was asked, by a school teacher from Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, was:
"Before you came to office, our country was immersed in corruption. People are now satisfied that action is being taken against corruption. I want to ask you how strict will be your action against these corrupt people? When will we see them behind bars?"
In response, the Prime Minister said:
"I understand your anger. I told you in 2014 also, and I will say it now that people who have looted the country will be forced to return each and every penny of what they looted. You have observed that since 2014, I have been working against corruption. The officers who were working in nexus with these corrupt people are now retiring. This is making my work easy. So since 2014 till now, I have taken them towards the road that leads to jail — few are out on bail and few are trying to get a bail. They are absconding because they are fearful. Now after 2019, I will put them behind bars."
Referring to Vijay Mallya, PM Modi said:
"People are absconding because they are fearful. They say that the conditions of the jails in India are so pathetic that one cannot survive. What do they expect? Should we give them a bungalow? So, I said that go and say this in the courtroom. I won’t give them a better jail than what was given to Mahatma Gandhi when the British arrested him. These absconders looted the country of nine thousand crore and due to the laws that our governemnet made, we have confiscated 14 thousand crore by auctioning their property. We have made such a law that their property can be seized- wherever in the world they are. And they very soon, will have to bow under our law."
Expressing that the system needs to be clear right from the top, PM Modi said:
"Earlier the news of money being confiscated under officer’s bed was rampant. Now it has stopped. People paying taxes has doubled than before. Everybody feels that if the environment is of honesty, then we must be honest. We have two works - appreciating and motivating the honest people and not tolerating the corrupt. My government has thanked taxpayers officially on the day of Budget 2019 from the floor of the Parliament. I believe that taxpayers are playing a role towards the development of the poors. The country now knows that there is no one to take bribe at the higher rank so the ones at the lower rungs have also stopped. The country has a humane hope that it should be free from corruption and I promise I will make that happen."