New Delhi: Even as his Cabinet decided today to promulgate the Land Acquisition Ordinance for the third time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the legislation is not “a matter of life or death for me” and that he was prepared to accept any suggestions.
“This is not a matter of life or death for me. And neither was it the agenda of my party or the government,” he said in an interview carried by The Tribune newspaper. In a separate interview, Modi responded strongly to Rahul Gandhi's jibe that the government was “suit boot ki sarkar”.
“Suit boot is definitely more acceptable than suitcase. After ruling for 60 years, the Congress has suddenly remembered the poor. People of this country have suffered and remained poor due to shortsighted policies of the Congress,” he told ANI.
Hitting out at Congress, Modi said, “Did the coal and spectrum scandals or the CWG fiasco benefit the poor? Everyone knows who were the beneficiaries—some chosen industrialists and contractors.”
The Prime Minister also spoke about the controversy surrounding the ‘One-Rank, One-Pension' (OROP) for ex-servicemen and told the newspaper, “We are committed to OROP, but we are in consultation with defence personnel regarding the definition of OROP.
“Our government is here for five years and we cannot do anything without consulting the people concerned. The dialogue is being actively pursued. There is no need to have any doubt on this.”
Modi said the opposition to the Land Bill is “totally unjustified and unfortunate” as he argued that the government has not made any changes for private industry.
“We have made changes only in response to demands of the states. The benefits of these changes will also accrue to the rural poor in terms of irrigation, housing, electrification, as well as better physical and social infrastructure,” he said.
The Prime Minister regretted that Congress is “not even ready to sit and discuss” the issue of Land Bill. “We believe in dialogue with all political parties.
I have personally appealed in Parliament that we are ready to open a dialogue with political parties and consider their suggestions,” he said, adding “I hope that the parties will cooperate on issues of larger national importance without getting into political calculations.”
Asked about the criticism for not being able to reign in elements in BJP who have made disparaging remarks against minorities, Modi asserted that “any discrimination or violence against any community will not be tolerated.”
He added, “My position on this is very clear: ‘Sab ka saath, sab ka vikas'. We stand for each of the 1.25 billion Indians regardless of caste or creed and we will work for the progress of each of them. Every faith in our country has equal rights; it is equal not only before the law but also before society.”
Noting that the Constitution guarantees religious freedom to every citizen and “that is not negotiable”, Modi said the “principle of equal respect and treatment for all faiths has been a part of India's ethos for thousands of years... I expect that everyone will understand and respect this.”