Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded his 2019 General Election campaign on Friday with an exclusive interview to Republic Media Network's Executive Editor Abhishek Kapoor - 49 days after his first election interview with Republic Media Network's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami. During the interview, the Prime Minister was probed on a range of topics and spoke about issues that have become headline stories of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, including the bitter spat between the BJP and the Trinamool in West Bengal, his 'Bhrashtachaari No. 1' reference to predecessor Rajiv Gandhi and even Thursday's controversy over Sadhvi Pragya calling Nathuram Godse a 'deshbhakt'.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: Greeting friends and viewers. The General Election of 2019 is in its last phase. Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave the first interview of this campaign to Republic Media Network's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, today, we are fortunate that he is giving the last interview after his last rally of 2019 to your network. Welcome, Mr Prime Minister.
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: Greetings to all your viewers. Through your channel, people of this country have taken forward this festival of democracy with excitement and fervour. Voters have played a very big role. Through your channel, I thank voters and lovers of democracy from the bottom of my heart.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: How was the experience? It was a very long campaign. It was a politically hot and vitriolic campaign. How did you handle it?
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: These elections have been great. If I talk about Madhya Pradesh, in comparison to 2014, there has been an 8% rise in the voter turnout despite this scorching summer. The other issue. There's one thing unique about this election, the previous governments were such, that whenever elections would near they would lose their political self-confidence and would also lose confidence in their administration. You must have seen, both in 2009 and in 2014, elections have happened during the IPL season, they couldn't even conduct an IPL match properly and the youngsters of this country, who have holidays and enjoy the game of cricket, on both occasions saw both the IPL seasons being conducted on foreign soil. Look at these elections, the government is running, IPL is going on, Navratri is going on, Ram Navami was celebrated, Hanuman Jayanti was celebrated,
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: Cyclone relief work was also managed.
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: Easter was celebrated and there was such a deadly cyclone in the eastern part of India. World lauded the relief work. So, when there's a 'mazboot sarkar' (strong government), a capable government, it works together in so many ways, in so many different sectors. India witnessed this in these elections but in the hustle bustle of the campaign and for their TRPs, the media forgot this.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: No, we showed it but I want to ask you some political questions. When the campaign had started, Arnab Goswami had asked you a question, that this election is about "Modi vs who". Two months have passed, we still have no answers to this question
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: The onus of giving an answer to this question is on the Opposition. The Opposition is not able to talk about its leader nor is it able to talk about its policy and nor does experience inspire confidence about their intent. And that is why, I have been saying this since day 1 that this is a union of oil & water, on the surface, it looks intact but they never blend.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: But they're not letting go. There is talk in the Lutyens Club about BJP getting no more than 180 seats. Sonia Gandhi has written to the DMK, inviting them to Delhi. The campaign has ended, where do you see the BJP?
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: Now look, in Karnataka, when no one got a complete majority, they murdered democracy, conspired and formed the government. Leaders from every corner of the country reached Karnataka. They competed with each other to make their presence felt. Even those whose shoulders were giving trouble were trying to raise their hands. They holding each other's hands and taking photographs and were trying to show the nation that they are united. When they left for Delhi from Bengaluru, their unity collapsed. There's a famous Hindi film song - 'Milte Hai Log Yahan, Milke Bikharne Ko'. So they meet again and again only to further collapse. They crumble only to meet again. They can write letters and invite each other, it's just an attempt at optics before the nation. People don't accept that but it works for television media and makes headlines in newspapers. It makes no impact on the hearts of people.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: Are you indicating that they could have the Arithmetic but there's no Chemistry? And Chemistry is with you?
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: Neither do they have Arithmetic nor do they have Chemistry, they don't even have Geography.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: You are confident about the numbers? There's no doubt on that front?
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: It's not a question of me being assured. BJP is not even fighting these elections. Narendra Modi is not fighting elections.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: Who is fighting then?
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: People of this country are fighting elections. They're fighting for a bright future and the nation is 10 miles ahead of my party in these elections. People will form a stronger government than before, they'll give maximum seats to BJP and form a strong government. They'll give maximum seats to NDA and form a strong government and the areas missed in the last five years, even those areas don't want to be left behind. Those areas too, are running ahead with full strength.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: You seem to be hinting at Bengal. You've seen the attitude of Mamata and her government in the entire campaign. They used all their might to stop you. There was stone pelting at Amit Shah's roadshow, chopper landing was blocked. Some would say that the federal structure is strong and that is why a state government can do this, but the Opposition says democracy is getting compromised
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: In a democracy, Mamata Banerjee has all the right to raise her voice against Narendra Modi and it is my responsibility to protect her right. In a democracy when someone opposes Modi, I consider it a good thing. I don't think its wrong. The question is not about this election, in the last one year, panchayat elections were also carried out there, send neutral teams there and get a report on how panchayat elections were conducted there. People had to go to court to file nomination, the court had to intervene and say that allow these people to file their nominations. They can file nominations. Elections happened, Mamata ji's party lost. Those who won, their homes were burnt down. Those who won, their family members were killed. During panchayat elections, polling booths were being set on fire, candidates were being killed, their relatives were being killed. In the same period, panchayat elections were also held in Jammu & Kashmir, everything was peaceful, nothing happened in a single polling booth. And in Bengal, the state government was responsible for carrying out panchayat elections, this was the condition there. The second thing, the election commission is responsible for conducting elections, the state election commission also has similar responsibility like that of the central election commission. The state government, the central government comes after that. And that is why, whatever transpired in Bengal under the state election commission should come under probe. Media can do it, the election commission can do it. It is their job. But I am of the view, there should be a probe. Before elections were announced, BJP had the right to have its say, BJP had both the right and responsibility to go amongst the people. The choppers of our chief ministers were not allowed landing. When we had public meetings, police would torture those who make pandals. They wouldn't allow pandal makers to put up pandals. We wouldn't get pandals or chairs or mics. We faced this torture even before elections were announced. But when elections were announced and when the EC is making all efforts to carry out free and fair polls, they unleashed a wave of violence. This is a threat to democracy. The question is not about central government or state government. In this entire election, I have noticed that Mamata ji's anger is not directed towards the BJP or Modi, it is directed towards people of Bengal. She's removing her anger on the people of Bengal. People of Bengal are being hit, people of Bengal are being hanged, trouble is being created for the people of Bengal. In Bengal, there's a fight between the people of the state & TMC, between the people of the state and the administration and between the people of Bengal and TMC government.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: Because we are in Madhya Pradesh, I want to ask you questions about the Congress party. Congress promised farm loan waiver, they say they're going to bring the 'NYAY' scheme and we saw what happened in Madhya Pradesh, where money was seized. Farm loan waiver hasn't happened. What is your response to the Congress when they say they'll bring the 'NYAY' scheme & will give Rs 75,000?
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: 2004, 2009 & 2019. Read Congress party's manifesto. They had made a promise in 2004, that they'll electricity to every household. It's 2019 now and I am doing the work and it will take 2 more months to finish the job. Those who don't fulfil their promises, people don't trust them and the people of the country are intelligent. They understand when things are incomplete sometimes but when there's betrayal, they do not forgive. In Madhya Pradesh, there has been betrayal, in Rajasthan, there has been a betrayal. The nation doesn't forgive betrayal.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: I have a question on Rahul Gandhi. He says he doesn't despise you but despises the RSS and that you represent the ideology of the RSS. What do you have to say about this?
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: This is an old fashion. Earlier people used to say Atal ji is great but the party is wrong. This dialogue has gone on for long. People have changed, the dialogue hasn't. People say he doesn't even know what the RSS is. He hasn't even spent 2 minutes on learning about the RSS. Somebody has handed him 3 alphabets, he keeps shouting those alphabets. Ask him the full form of RSS, he wouldn't know. If republic tv gets the opportunity, it must ask Rahul the full form of RSS. He won't be able to say it.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: If he takes questions from us, we'll definitely ask. Another thing he keeps saying is that the Prime Minister can comment about my family but I won't say a word against his family. Has such a thing happened?
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: I would want Mr Rahul Gandhi, president of the 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 I request you to say it out loud. If you have facts and want them printed in a book, I will personally bear the printing expense of that book. If you want to address a media briefing, I am ready to sponsor that as well. If my parents have harmed this nation or society, I invite you, if you have any information, place it before the country. I implore you to not have any sympathy towards me. 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. 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. 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.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: You are underscoring that whatever you've said, it is about the Gandhi family's public life.
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: There's no question of getting personal. His father, the way he is revered by his son, we too rever him that way as a father. We have no problem. What enmity do we have? I used to sell tea, is it so that his father drank tea in my stall and didn't pay me for it? Do I have a fight with him? I have no fight with them.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: You mentioned Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. I've seen you for a long time and the dedication you have towards Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi ji, towards Khadi. You've made a Mahatma temple in Gujarat's Gandhinagar. In the last 2 days, there have been talks about Gandhiji and Godse. Do you want to send a message?
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: The comment made is absolutely condemnable, unacceptable & these people shouldn't ever make such blunders. Even by mistake, they shouldn't make such mistakes. They should be careful & alert. It's okay that they later apologised but I can never forgive them from my heart. All my life, I can't forgive them.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: Time magazine has released its latest cover and has called you divider in chief. You've been prime minister for 5 years, you went on the sadbhavna fast in 2012, I have been witness to it. It happened in many places. I believe you thought, there should be a sense of closure, but somewhere there's a view that people are not ready to accept to. In 5 years, how united or divided has India been?
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: Time magazine is a foreign magazine, the author of the article has said that his father is a political figure in Pakistan and he comes for a political family in Pakistan. These 2 things are enough for their credibility.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: But, how united is India?
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: Their credibility. Secondly, India's internal strength is fascinating. Even now when a youngster does well in a cricket match, the entire nation rallies behind him. Recently, there was a cyclone in Odisha, the entire country has lined up to help. In Srinagar, when there was an earthquake, the entire country helped. Last year, there were floods in Srinagar, the entire country united for Srinagar. When there was an attack on Amarnath pilgrims, Muslims of Srinagar, stood in long queues to donate blood. This is my country's speciality. That is why, those who don't know anything about the spirit of my country, they shouldn't try to crush it. Modi didn't make this country, nor did the BJP or Congress, this nation has been built by its people. Saints, sages, teachers, scientists, farmers, thinkers, acharyas, spiritual leaders, religious gurus, all kinds of people, labourers to farmers, they've made this country.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: Mr Prime Minister, you made Sardar Patel's statue of unity. Sardar Patel was from Congress. People say you're appropriating him, so this Divider-in-Chief comment that has come...
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: The Dandi march happened in 1930. Jan Sangh, RSS or BJP doesn't make any claims about the Dandi march. Dandi march, which was the turning point in the fight for India's independence, for 125 years, they did nothing. Despite staying in power for so many years, they did nothing. Today, the Gandhi memorial made by us, according to the information I have available, initially, 10,000 people used to visit it. The new generation is getting to know about the role played by Mahatma Gandhi. Sardar Patel statue, the world's tallest statue, when anyone across the globe googles about the world's tallest statue, India's name pops up. Sardar Patel was India's unifier. Coming generations should get these living examples about the essence of unity to strengthen the nation's unity. Not just that, you must remember, that Shyamji Krishna Verma was a great revolutionary of this country. He gave birth to India House in England. He, Swami Vivekanand ji and Dayanand Saraswati ji, they are great scholars of Sanskrit. Their teachings have been followed. They were socialists. In London. Under the nose of Britishers, he came up with a newspaper for Indian independence. They gave scholarship to great men like Veer Savarkar and called him to England. And the condition was just 1 - come to England, study here, become a barrister, but go back and fight against the Britishers. He inspired Madan Lal Dhingra. He was a revolutionary. In 1930, he passed away, and he had expressed one desire - he said to keep my ashes intact till my country attains freedom and after my nation gets independence to bury my ashes in Indian soil. In 2003, after becoming Chief Minister, after 73 years, I brought Dr Shyam ji Krishna Verma's ashes and I have kept it in Mandvi, Kutch and a memorial for the brave has been made there. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose did such great service for the nation. At the fort, 75 years of independence that is marked by INA, I paid respect to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. I went to Andaman & Nicobar and there, I named an island after Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, called it Swaraj Island. It was Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's wish, we fulfilled it. Baba Sahab Ambedkar, we made 'Panch Teerth' at that place in London where Baba Sahab Ambedkar studied. Mou, which is Baba Sahab Ambedkar's birthplace, Baba Sahab Ambedkar, what spent his last few days in 26 Alipur, Baba Sahab Ambedkar who embraced Buddhism in Nagpur, we developed all these 5 places as 'Panch Teerth'. I believe, a society that gets delinked with history, it can't create history. We have to live with our history and that is why I am on mission mode, adivasis across the country, who played a role in freedom struggle since 1857, in every state, where ever, they have statues, the memorial should be made there, so that, their history helps the next generation. My role is just for the nation. No matter which party of which ideology they belonged to, they agreed with us or disagreed, you don't evaluate on that basis.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: I will ask you three final questions, one political and the other two in connection with your government. The political question is - on May 23, results will be out, on that day, regional parties could play a role like TRS, BJD, Jagan, Pawan Kalyan. How do you view the role of these parties?
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: Number 1, the results that will be out on May 23rd will be for a strong government. On May 23rd, people's mandate will be for BJP that will get more numbers than 2014 and form a government with an absolute majority. NDA allies will also get more seats, the margin will also increase. Geographically too, our footprint will increase. People of India will give an ultimate mandate. To form a government, the strength that is required, the government will give that strength. The government will be formed. But I don't work with the sole intention of running the government. I have to run the government, it's a very easy job, but we have to run the country. And Modi can't run the country alone. You need to run the country by taking all ideologies along, by taking all leaders along, by taking all parties along. No matter, how staunch the opponent, you need to take them along to run the country. We are in politics for the nation and not for the party
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: My question is a governance-related question. When you became prime minister, at least 2.5 crores benefitted from the direct benefit transfer scheme. Today at least 55 crores have benefitted from it. Do you think your constituency is of those who are beneficiaries of the scheme or is it as your opponents say the Hindutva constituency?
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: Look, they have nothing to do with Hindutva. They use the word Hindutva, these Mahamilaavatis, use it only to fearmonger & to create panic amongst the Muslim community. This is only a tool for them to misguide the Muslims, to fearmonger and to create panic amongst them. It is nothing more than that. I have been the longest serving Chief Minister in the state of Gujarat and even in these 5 years, I just gave you an example, the IPL is on even during general elections, it is the month of Ramazan too, there was Easter too, there was Ram Navami, there was Hanuman Jayanti and even the general elections are underway. This is the power of governance.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: There is no left wing and right wing in your governance?
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: Our governance has just one wing which works towards the betterment of people & the society. There is no one word in the dictionary that can summarise this.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: In the last 15 days, the stock market witnessed ups & downs. Markets feel that there is a change in the government, it would impact economic reforms. When you came to power, there were multiple robust economic reforms & measures. There were talks of land reforms as well. Can you assure that if you come back to power for a second term the economic reforms would be back on track?
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: Don't simplify the stock market too much. Today the stock markets in India react to the new york stock market within 2 seconds. The ups & downs in the stock market are not restricted to its domestic market. If there is a statement by president trump even that impacts the stock market. So do not link it to just General Elections in India.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: Is that a response to the Lutyens narrative?
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: Number 1, do not link it to General Elections in India. Number 2, it is an interesting incident from 2015. These people in the betting industry play their own games. I do not know what the betting industry is, how does it functions, how do you place bets and how do you earn, I have no knowledge of this.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: But they are giving you the numbers.
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: I am aware but in 2014 they had placed their bets on the Congress party getting around 150 seats and BJP getting between 218-225 seats. The bets were placed on these numbers. There was no bet for the BJP getting more than 225 seats. On 16 May, which means 5 years ago on 16th May 2014, when the results were declared, the first ones to receive a blow due to Modi's entry was the betting industry. Across the nation, those linked to the betting industry suffered huge losses because all of them were proven wrong.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: Is that why they're placing the opposite bets this time around?
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: It went up to 282. 282! I think this was the biggest financial loss to the betting industry and that too only because of Modi's entrance. So it was clear, it was an entry of the non-corrupt. Even in 2019, whether it is stock market or the betting industry, the mood of the people of the entire nation is above this.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: My last question to you, you are looking for a second term, how do you plan to carry forward the legacy of these 5 years?
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: Number 1, Modi wasn't born for his legacy and neither does Modi work for his own legacy. My aim is that India's legacy plays a crucial role in the entire world for the next 100 years. I want India to shape up that way. For this, I promise to utilise every cell of my body and every second that passes by.
Abhishek Kapoor, Executive Editor: Thank you so much
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: Thank you. Thank you.