“Let us make a peaceful and prosperous India”
“Let us make a peaceful and prosperous India”
“Naxalism (Maoism) in the country has come down to 37 to 40 per cent. Infiltration into the country has been reduced to 50 per cent in 2015-16. Insurgency in the North-East has been minimised. If one sees the history of last 15 years of the North-East, one finds it the most peaceful now,” said Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in an exclusive interview to Editor-in-Chief, Prakash Nanda and Editor, Deepak Kumar Rath. He spoke on a wide range of issues concerning the NDA government, the BJP, internal security and others. Excerpts:
- After two years, what according to you are the major achievements of your government?
If one observes the performance of our government led by Narendra Modi ji, then one finds it is excellent. India is a vast country, so the two-year period of governance is not adequate. Nevertheless, there are various achievements in last two years. India’s reputation on the international arena has increased. GDP growth rate was below 6 per cent, but in last two years the situation has changed immensely and it has become 7.6 per cent. Moreover, in the last quarter of 2015-16 financial year, GDP reached 7.9 per cent. Traditionally, USA and China would happen to be the biggest players in receiving foreign direct investment (FDI), but in 2016-17, India has emerged on top of the foreign direct investment league table–FDI to the tune of approximately 51 billion dollars was invested in the country. Now the global community considers our perspective seriously. Although USA is the biggest economy, India is the fastest growing economy in the world. It is a remarkable achievement for the country in economic field. Earlier, natural resources were looted every day, now it has been stopped. We brought transparency in the system. There are various instances, but I would like to put one of them. The coal scam during the UPA government, according to CAG report on coal allocation, had caused a Rs. 1.86-lakh crore loss to the exchequer. Now there is transparency in the system and the coal auction proceeds have crossed Rs 2 lakh crore. No corruption of any kind is one of our prime achievements. We acted against the culprits immediately.
We also worked on structural reforms, for example, direct benefit transfer scheme, where the government’s subsidies, assistances will reach to the common man directly without any interference of the middle man. For a businessman, who has turnover up to Rs 2 crore, there is no need to maintain any kind of records. This Rs 8-crore turnover, the government will assume, earned a profit of eight per cent and tax will imposed on this profit. For professionals, those who have income up to 50 lakh per year, it would be assumed that they spend 25 lakh and income tax will be imposed only on 25 lakh. These are some of the structural reforms and their result is now visible. There were about one crore fake ration cards in practice but we terminated them, which saved up to Rs 10,000 crore. One crore Indians gave up LPG subsidies after Prime Minister’s appeal. I think it is one of the biggest achievements. Also people believe in what the Prime Minister says, which is something very good for our country
Q. You said that you brought various reforms and regulations in the financial sector, but there are VAT, indirect taxes, etc. Do you not think it is a burden on the common man?
I think we should wait to get GST passed. Thereafter, we will bring more tax reforms
Q. It is seen in social circles that if one spends Rs. 100, then direct and indirect taxes will be around Rs. 55. How do you see it?
We will rationalise taxes. Once GST is passed, there will be no more indirect taxes. I don’t say we have brought all reforms. We will bring further reforms in the future. I believe GST will add 1.5 to 2 per cent to the GDP growth rate. We revived the social and economic conditions of deprived and poor people. Earlier, there was a sense of fear among them but now they have become empowered. Once the sense of confidence is infused into these people, they will contribute to the economy.
Q. According to government statistics, employment generation rate of India has been reduced considerably. What do you like to say about it?
We have started skill development programmes. Approximately, 3.5 crore people have taken loans from Mudra Bank to start their own venture, which will generate employment for others. So, please allow us some time.
Q. Make in India and Swacch Bharat are the flagship programmes of your government. How successful have these schemes been?
One should not expect 100 per cent result out of every scheme. We are doing them for a better cause but it will take time. Preliminary results are visible at ground already.
Q. Infrastructure has developed with the help of Swachh Bharat scheme such as toilets, but some criticize that without water these are of no use.
The government could not able to solve all the problems. We need help of the society to make it successful. Contribution of every citizen is essential to build a prosperous India.
Q. There were several challenges before you vis-à-vis internal security, infiltration, etc. In this regard, what are the achievements of Ministry of Home Affairs?
Naxalism (Maoism) in the country has come down to 37 to 40 per cent. Infiltration into the country has been reduced to 50 per cent in 2015-16. Insurgency in the North-East has been minimised. If one sees the history of last 15 years of the North-East, one finds it the most peaceful now.
Q. Your government has initiated the Naga Peace Accord. What further improvement has taken place in this regard?
It is in the process. We will complete it in next one or two years.
Q. In Odisha, Maoism is a big challenge. Recently, a report was published that Biju Janata Dal gave cash to a Naxal leader from the party funds. A former Union Minister Braj Kishore Tripathy substantiated it on records. How will you react to it?
I don’t know about it. I have to go through all the facts, and then only will I be able to comment on it. But the Odisha government is also working well to contain Naxalism, and, to a large extent, is getting success. In last one or two years, a large number of Maoists have surrendered, which never happened before.
Q. Infrastructure development in Maoist area has always been a demand of states to the Centre. So far, how much progress has been done in this case?
Both the Central and state governments are working on it. We provide assistances to states for it. Earlier, the share of the states on the national revenue was 32 per cent, now it has been increased to more than 40 per cent. So much so the overall share on revenue has become 65:35 for the state and the Centre respectively.
Q. There are two components in the Naxal problem, one is military affairs, and another is developmental approach. Most of the Naxal leaders are imported from outside, who indoctrinate the common tribal. What work have you done to stop foot soldiers in Maoist insurgency?
The pace of development work is at a great speed. One can see it at Bastar in Chhattisgarh and Gadchiroli in Maharashtra. But we are not satisfied with the work, as Maoists tend to stop the developmental works. They create hurdles to curtail growth. But we are resolute to give momentum to development.
Q. You mentioned that infiltration has been reduced. What would you like to say about Pathankot attack?
There is no second opinion that terrorists crossed the borders. But the major achievement is that although jawans lost their precious lives, they did not allow terrorists to harm any kind of important strategic assets, and they killed all the terrorists. Terrorists can do anything. No country in the world can affirm that they are terror free, not even the developed countries. And every county should come forward to wipe out terrorism.
Q. Fencing work on borders needs to be expedited. How much has your government added to it?
I am not able to say the exact figure but we have increased it at a good pace. There are some problems in fencing work, like state governments need to provide land for it, and work stops because of land acquisition complexities. There are also other problems, where technical solutions are needed.
Q. As a Home Minister, how comfortable are you as far as the Kashmir insurgency situation is concerned?
New government was formed recently. We want to win the confidence of Kashmiri people. Mehboobaji is working on it. We have also taken some good steps. People will come to know about them very soon.
Q. What about the issue of Kashmiri Pundits’ rehabilitation?
I talked with Mehbooba ji. She agreed to rehabilitee Kashmiri Pundits, and also said that she would provide land for them. Mehboobaji has given a statement in the State Assembly that Pundits are their brothers they will rehabilitee them in Kashmir.
Q. Mehbooba ji has given a good statement. But people like Yasin Malik have politicized it?
It is a non-issue.
Q. Bangladeshi infiltration is a huge crisis. How do you propose to curb it?
In next two years, we will seal the Bangladesh and Assam borders.
Q. Will there be any impact of it on Indo-Bangladesh relations?
No, Bangladesh is cooperating with us on this issue.
Q. Police modernisation is a complicated matter. Police is doing a fabulous job, not only paramilitary forces but also state police. Have you taken any concrete step to bring modern arms and ammunition and new systems?
We have given maximum funds to states by implementing the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission. We expect states would do the police modernisation work. Now the Centre has written letters to states to provide some assistance for modernisation. If there is mutual agreement then police modernization scheme will soon be fructified.
Q. Your next target is upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections. What is the strategy to face the challenge? Since you belong to Uttar Pradesh, you have to take major decisions. Media has reported that PM Modi and you will visit UP every month. What is your take on it?
PM Modi and I were present at the last two rallies in Saharanpur and Bareili. We will win the elections.
Q. BJP had declared chief minister candidate for Assam election. Will BJP declare CM candidate for upcoming UP election?
BJP parliamentary board will decide on it. Sometime, we declare CM candidates with a specific strategy, sometime we don’t. These are political strategies.
Q. Is there any chance to announce you the CM candidate for Uttar Pradesh election?
There is no dearth of good leaders in Uttar Pradesh.
Q. Coming back to your ministry, there are two controversial issues. One is restriction on NGOs. People have perception that your government does not allow dissent.
If some NGOs are getting foreign funds, then NGOs also have the responsibility of accountability. They need to file returns and do proper auditing on expenditure. The government should know where and how the NGOs spend funds. If authority concerned finds any foul play, then it will act according to laws. We want NGOs’ contribution in nation building. Every NGO is not indulged in illegal activities.
Q. Ford Foundation has found to be involved in several illegal activities, but the government has allowed it to function. Why?
Those who did not do proper auditing and file returns, we only take action against them.
Q. In last 50 or 60 years, was no action taken against the illegal NGOs’ funding and spending?
There should have been precautions on it, but earlier governments did not work on it.
Q. In what kind of activities were they involved? There are allegations that they were working with proselytisers.
Yes. Anyway, the government should be familiar with NGOs’ activities. I don’t want to comment much on it.
Q. The second controversial issue is that after your government came to power, issuing visa has been liberalized. It has pro and cons. Recently, Chinese dissidents came to India, and MEA said that Home Ministry had given Visa, we did not. Please comment on it?
Visa was not issued. It was in process, but there were some obstacles. So, we did not provide visa.
Q. Student agitations around the country are taking place, be it Hyderabad Central University, JNU and NIT in Srinagar. Do you think these issues could have been handled better because they come under your ministry?
It is the duty of police to handle such situations effectively so as to bring peace in the country. But I would like to say that if someone says ‘Bharat ki barbadi tak jang rahegi’ then my government will not tolerate this.
Q. After JNU, Jadavpur University came to limelight because of the student agitations. Why did the Centre not interfere in it?
Police is investigating into the issue. Leave it on the police.
Q. What do you say about the recent Mathura incident?
Whatever was happened is unfortunate. Two police officers were killed. I suggested the UP government that for a better inquiry into the matter, the state government should entrust the matter to CBI for unbiased investigation, so that doodh ka dookdh, pani ka pani ho jaaye.
Q. When you were in the opposition, your party used to allege that CBI is a caged parrot. CBI was known as Congress Bureau of Investigation. What changes does your government propose to bring to make CBI autonomous?
We provide maximum autonomy to every investigating institution. I would like to say that we should never play with an institution’s works. If someone plays with it then nation suffers.
Q. Do you blame the UP government for the mishap in Mathura? Do you question on the ethics of UP government?
Yes. If they had been staying in Mathura for last two years, then why did the government not take any action against them? I again say that CBI is needed to investigate into this matter and the UP government should recommend for it soon. There are loopholes in the UP government machinery.
Q. You are number two in the government, what is your next ambition?
We all Indians have one dream: we should work collectively to make a prosperous and peaceful India.