"The good news is Parliament is running," remarked Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday as he sent his audience at an event into peals of laughter.
Modi was delivering the inaugural address at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi and 35 minutes into his speech inquired from his hosts whether he had some more time.
He began his speech at 1015 am shortly before the scheduled commencement of Parliament session at 11 am.
"I have to go to Parliament. The good news is that Parliament is running," he said, and hastened to add," the credit does not go to Modi but to all the parties".
The prime minister made the reference about the functioning of the Parliament against the backdrop of the virtual washout of its Monsoon session over various issues.
On a serious note, Prime Minister Modi said his government was taking states on board for development of the country, asserting that India can move ahead only on the "strong shoulders" of the states and not from Delhi alone.
"India is not going to progress from Delhi," he said.
Citing various measures taken by his government like setting up special departments for states at the Centre in taking them along, Modi said the states have the most "important role" in India's progress.
"States have the most important role in India's progress. India can move ahead only on the strong shoulders of the states and not from Delhi alone. If we walk together shoulder to shoulder then results will automatically come," he said.
Modi said it is important that the world knows about our states and their strengths.
During his 40-minute speech, the prime minister also said that a decisive mandate given to his party in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections was crucial to the country's progress.
Having a stable government is a very big thing and this can't be ignored. Fractured mandates always have uncertainty," he said, adding, there was "despondency" all over before his government took over office in May last year.
Talking about the measures being taken by his government to push development in states, especially the eastern region, Modi said the Centre had recently sanctioned two major plants for manufacturing railway engines in Bihar.
He added lightheartedly that the decision was taken after the assembly election in state. BJP had there suffered a big defeat in the hands of Nitish Kumar-led grand alliance.
Modi said there was no dearth of good ideas in the country but their efficient execution was necessary for success and he was focusing on this.
The prime minister spoke about various initiatives taken by his government, including promoting LED lights in 100 cities, targeted subsidies and changing work culture in the public sector to turn it around, to push development and save money.
He lamented that if he had done disinvestment in public sector and slashed subsidies, then reformists would have hailed him and clapped for days, but they were not noticing that he was achieving the same results by doing things differently.
"If I cut down subsidy, I will be hailed as reformist, but if we do targetted delivery of subsidies it is not seen as reform," he added.
Modi said over 40 lakh families had given up LPG cylinder subsidies on his call and his government used the savings from this to give cylinder to as many poor families.
Talking about MoUs signed by the Centre with 100 cities for promotion of LED lights, he said it will result in saving 21,500 MW of power.
"If I had announced a new power project of 21,500 MW, then it would be a headline in media. Such a factory would have cost Rs 1.25 lakh crore. I have achieved the same result but it has not got the same attention," he told the audience.
Power generation record had been broken by his government, work on 60-65 of over 85 major projects pending for years had started, he said.
Modi also said that restructuring state-run firms was an alternative the government could consider.
"In our country reformists would say that you do disinvestment. (if we do, then they would say) this government has done 'very good'. If strike happens then there will be a photo on front page saying 'Modi murdabad, Modi murdabad'. We have made shipping companies, which were running in losses, profitable.
"Do we have only two ways to improve things one either disinvest them or shut them down. But there is a third way which is to corporatise it and change its work culture. Bring efficiency and make it apolitical and we can change things," he said.
Talking about stalled projects, Modi said there were about 85 major projects which were not working. "Even their foundation stones could not be traced."
"I reviewed them and I can tell you this that about 60-65 projects have been started working satisfactorily. Dabhol power plant in Maharashtra, which was also not working for past two years, has also started working and power generation has begun from there," the prime minister said.
Modi said his government has taken steps to check leakage of subsidy given on fertilisers and misuse of its end-use.
"Subsidy of Rs 80,000 crore is given on fertilisers. Nobody checked whether this urea goes to farmers or not. This subsidised urea is a raw materials for chemical industries. That is why there is a theft of subsidised urea by chemical industries.
"Then they process it and use it and farmers is named for it (for taking so much worth crores of subsidy). How to stop it? We decided to do 100 per cent 'Neem coating' of urea. Once that is done then it cannot be used in any other work but in farming. We have already done it for urea produced in the country and within two months it will be done for imported urea also," the prime minister said.
This means we checked on urea's theft and "if reformist feel that this is reform then they must say it", he said amidst round of applause from audience.
Modi said his government took steps in making Chandigarh a no-kerosene city. About 30 lakh litres kerosene goes to Chandigarh on which subsidy of Rs 3.5 lakh crore is given.
"I used technology and found that 80 per cent of Kerosene was not going to people who needed it. It was going somewhere else. We decided that families who have gas connection will not be given Kerosene. At the same time we decided to give it to 3,200 poor families who were earlier not getting it," he said.
Modi said amidst global slowdown, especially in China and in Eurozone, India is heading towards its bright future.
Especially states like Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have done wonders in pushing ease of doing business initiatives.
These are those states which were neglected. This means there is new energy and faith in states to walk along with the Centre on the path of development, the prime minister said.
"It is very important that we recognise this (that states are distinct and have potential and aspiration to grow). That is why a separate department in external affairs ministry has been set up so that they can communicate with world leaders," he said, adding that "India is such a big state it cannot be run by Delhi".
Citing Rupees' strength, Modi said for the first time Rupee bonds were approved for investment in Indian Railways in London stocks exchange and now anyone from the world can invest in the Rupee.
He said that his government is trying to electrify 18,000 villages across the country where even electric poles were not installed. Modi also asked people to download a mobile app to track the status of electrification process which will be completed within 1,000 days of the announcement made by him on this year's Independence Day.
"It has been over 100 days of announcement and I can say you with happiness that 3,004 villages have got electricity," he said.
Modi said these changes have not come overnight and they are the results of hard work of his government.