Slamming his detractors on thorny issues back home, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he was fine with criticism and even welcomed it, further distinguishing it from baseless allegations.
"To criticise, one has to research and find proper facts. Sadly, it does not happen now. What happens instead is allegations," Modi said in his more than 2-hour long interaction while speaking at the 'Bharat Ki Baat, Sabke Saath' programme at the London's iconic Central Hall Westminster.
"I want this Government to be criticised. Criticism makes democracy strong. Democracy cannot succeed without constructive criticism," he added.
Responding to a series of questions moderated by Prasoon Joshi , the Chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification why he didn’t speak up despite so much criticism, PM Modi said that this happened because he gave criticism much importance, trying to understand where the criticism was coming from and then rectify his mistakes.
“There is an allegation against me that there is so much criticism, but I don't speak up. Actually, I give their criticism so much importance that I try to understand that. I try to rectify myself. My work is not to stop one from talking. That you criticise me is a goldmine for me,” he said.
PM Modi’s sharp reaction comes a day after his predecessor Dr Manmohan Singh advised him to speak more, an irony considering how the former would mock him for his silence in public and derisively call him ‘Maun’ Mohan Singh.
Days of incremental change are over: PM Modi
Further taking a dig at the previous governments and their governance of making people dependent on the state, the prime minister said that days of incremental change are over and Indians have become more aspirational under the BJP-led government at the Centre.
Modi also said that people have more expectations from his government because they know that it can deliver. "People know that when they say something, the Government will listen and do it. Days of incremental change are over," he said.
Rape is rape, don't politicise it, says PM on Kathua, Unnao incidents
Amid the nationwide outrage over the Kathua and Unnao rape cases, PM Modi said "rape is rape" and should not be politicised.
"We always ask our daughters about what they are doing, where they are going. We must ask our sons too. The person who is committing these crimes is also someone's son,” he said.
"I have never indulged in counting the number of rape incidents in this government and that government. Rape is rape, be it now or earlier. It is extremely sad. Don't politicise rape incidents," the prime minister added.
The rape of a daughter is a matter of shame for the country, he said.
Informed Pakistan about surgical strikes before announcing to media: PM Modi
In a veiled message to Pakistan, PM Modi said that antics of those exporting terror and trying to backstab will not be tolerated and they will be answered in language they understand.
He said Islamabad had been informed of the 2016 surgical strikes before these were announced to the media.
"I said before India gets to know, we should call Pakistan and tell them. We were calling them since 11 AM but they were scared to come on phone, at 12 we spoke to them and then told the Indian media," he said.
Citing India's history, Modi asserted that India never looked to capture anyone else's territory.
PM Modi at 'Bharat Ki Baat Sabke Saath': 'Informed Pakistan about surgical strike before making it public in India'
Rape, murder dehumanise societies in profoundly dangerous ways: UN women chief on Kathua, Unnao incidents
"During World War I and II, we had no stake but our soldiers took part in the wars. These were big sacrifices. Look at our role in UN peacekeeping forces," Modi said.
Asked what he thought of some people questioning the valour of the Army, Modi said he does not want to use the stage to criticise anyone.
PM’s several digs at opposition
Modi said earlier the government was centred around a family but people have shown that in democracy even a tea seller can become their representative and shake hands at the royal palace.
Noting that there is big difference between 'then and now ', Modi said, "when the policy is clear, intention is clear, and the intentions are noble, then you can achieve the desired result."
Responding to a question, Prime Minister Modi said impatience is not a bad thing. "If a person has a cycle, a person aspires a scooter. If a person has a scooter, a person aspires a car. It is natural to aspire. India is getting increasingly aspirational," he said.
"Earlier, people had adopted a 'chalta hai' attitude but now they have high expectations from us," Modi said, adding that the 125 crore people of India now feel excitement, hope and expectation.
"If you will see where we stand in comparison to previous government, I can affirm that we left no stone unturned in doing good for the country on any parameter," he added.
"You all must have seen that the power of your passport has increased. People look at you with pride. India is still is the same. But today we can see a difference. Indian has managed to do this & now people know the power of India," Modi said, comparing his government's achievements with that of his predecessors.
He asked what prevented Indian Prime Ministers from going to Israel, referring to previous governments' policy of avoiding highest-level visit to the Jewish state.
"Yes, I will go to Israel and I will even go to Palestine," said Modi, who is the first Indian Prime Minister to travel to both Israel and Palestine in two separate visits.
"I will further cooperation with Saudi Arabia and for the energy needs of India I will also engage with Iran," Modi said, referring to the two Middle East oil-rich power centres who are at odds with each other.
#BharatKiBaatSabkeSaath: PM Narendra Modi's Bharat Ki Baat Sabke Saath event in London: Full video