Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his first 2019 election interview laid bare the issues which will matter as the voters head to the polling booths, starting April 11, while speaking to Republic Media Network's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami.
The government-to-government Rafale deal between India and France essentially become the Opposition's main poll plank heading into the elections, and on being questioned about the MMRCA deal, the Prime Minister showed the Congress the mirror, saying that it was actually previous governments led by the party that had made a habit of using defence deals as an 'ATM' to the detriment of the forces.
"In our country, defence deals have, in a sense been an ATM for the previous government. All previous Congress governments have used these as ATMs. They can't even imagine that defence deals can happen with transparency and honesty. And until their own interest was served, they didn’t bother about the interest of the forces. My priority is to ensure that my nation’s forces are strong and capable. That is why I am taking quick decisions and will continue to do so in the future," PM Modi said during the intervew.
Contrasting his views on previous Congress governments with that of his own, PM Modi added that he is trying to do things for the forces with integrity and transparency, which the earlier UPA-led governments did not.
"Quick decisions didn't happen because the earlier governments had in place, some sort of a mechanism to get their pots sweetened in some or other way. And this has happened in all cases – whether it be Navy, Army or Air Force – in every deal. I am trying to do these things with integrity through government to government contacts. I am trying to modernise the forces of this country through transparency. Second, it may so happen that results of Make In India programme may not come into effect that quickly. You may have seen that I have recently inaugurated a rifle manufacturing factory (refers to AK-47 factory in Amethi)," PM Modi said.