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Modi: We want Muslims to fulfill their dreams

Last updated on: August 1, 2012 12:12 IST

Image: Muslim boys greet each other in Jammu
Photographs: /Mukesh Gupta/Reuters

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi gave a candid and controversial interview to Shahid Siddiqui, editor of the Urdu weekly Nai Duniya, where he spoke about the Gujarat riots.

For doing the interview Siddiqui was suspended from the Samajwadi Party, which he has joined recently after quitting the Bahujan Samaj Party.

This is the second and final part of that wide-ranging interview.

Part 1: 'I won't apologise for the Gujarat riots'

Gujarat is developing and Gujaratis are progressing but the minorities? I consider your point that the Muslims in Gujarat are progressing with respect to the Muslims in other parts but they are still backward as compared to Gujarat's paradigm of development.

Nobody is backward as compared to Gujarat's development. Everyone's growth rate is the same. When we came to power, we realised that the tribal belt from Umargaon to Ambaji had no school with the science stream. Can you imagine? We have reservations in engineering and medical but if there will is no school with the science stream, how will a tribal child become a doctor or an engineer?

My government recognised 45 tehsils that did not have science education in schools and what I did first was to open 11th and 12th classes in science in those schools. Everyone benefitted. Then I set up the Colgi Committee. The committee identified 44 parameters of backwardness and recognised 30 talukas out of the total 225 talukas in my state who are lagging behind in these 44 parameters. So, I formulated a special scheme asking the chief secretary to adopt those 30 talukas and he monitors those talukas every month. My effort is to bring those 30 talukas to the level of others. So, this is my work style.

Then we thought what should be done for improving education in the coastal areas which predominantly have fishing communities and is dominated by Muslims. So, we declared a package of Rs 15,000 crore. We wanted to develop Gujarat's seashore. We were aware that without societal development, there can be no balanced development. We started an ITI there, with a ship working yard and courses in port management and marine engineering.

There are areas in Ahmedabad which are quite backward, the minorities and Dalits reside there. These areas don't have banks and schools?

We have initiated a Sehri Garib Samrudh Yojna package worth Rs 15,000 crore and we have concentrated on education and employment. The banks do not come under my government, it under your favourite -- New Delhi's secular government, talk about them, let the world know about their reality.

Education is my prime goal. I have initiated a computer literacy programme. Children drop out after fifth and seventh standard because they are poor. I have told them that I will teach them to use computers and I believe that even fifth standard child can be taught to use a computer. I tell them that if today they can earn Rs 2,000-3,000, then after learning the skill they can earn up to Rs 5,000. I have trained around one lakh children. Who are these people, all of them are poor.

Translated and transcribed from Hindi by Ufaque Paikar

'India is born a secular state'

Photographs: Ajay Verma/Reuters

Do you believe in secularism, do you think India should remain secular?

People who are out to teach India about secularism are insulting India, it's a born secular state, there are people in India who believed in secularism. No one should teach India about secularism, there was time when our boundary stretched up to Afghanistan and as the situation changed the country ceased to be secular.

Same goes for Pakistan and Bangladesh, it was secular due the presence of people who believed in this idea. That is why before questioning India's secularism you should see what has happened to these countries. That is why people like us believe in secularism.

What do you mean by pseudo-secular?

They are those who play politics on the basis of religion but wax eloquent about secularism.

Name those parties...

That is not my job and I don't take names.

You were now talking about India's secular past. Is it your dream to have a united India (Akhand Bharat) again? To regain what has been lost?

I haven't said anything like that.

Are you saying it should be like that?

I was merely familiarising you with history.

But should it be like that?

Wait, let me tell you... I was introducing...

Is it not your dream? It is our dream at least.

We want our country, as it is now, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari to remain one, remain noble (Ek rahe, nek rahe). And our dream for the welfare of all mankind -- Vasudeva Kutumbakam -- is our vision of the whole world is a family. Our ancestors' dream, Ekam Sat Vipraha Bahudha Vadanti -- that the truth is one, knowledgeable people call it by different names. And our ancestors' dream that Sarve Api Sukhina Santu Sarve Santu Niramayah, Sarve Bhadrani Pashyantu, Ma Kaschid Dukha Bhag Bhavet -- may everybody be happy, may good happen to everybody. We do not want that welfare for one and not for another. That is not our dream. Our dream is inclusive of everybody.

'Hindustan, Pakistan and Bangladesh should rejoin'

Good will happen to them, only if... Pakistan's in a bad state now.

My party states that sabka saath, sabka vikas -- we are with everybody for everybody's development.

It will only be good for them when they become a part of united India...what has been cut rejoins India.

Samjraayavadi people have started a movement in Pakistan itself for a United India. The movement has started in Pakistan itself because they believe that if Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Hindustan become one, then the Muslim majority will increase and it will be easier for Hindustan to become an Islamic country. That is their dream of a United India. The movement is being started in Pakistan only to create tensions in India, not as a yearning for the way India was once.

The basis of your party itself has been the idea of United India (Akhand Bharat)...

I had made a small suggestion. I'll tell you... We call this Sanskritik Bharat. The dream of a United India is that we stay one, stay noble and don't disintegrate into smaller pieces. And this is not a wrong dream. Would you want the country to split further?

My father had written a book in 1946 predicting what would happen if Pakistan was formed... and whatever ruination followed. My father invested all his resources fighting the Muslim League and the partition of the country. Members of my family who had moved to Pakistan weren't allowed to enter the house for as long as my father was alive. He kept no link with them. He was such a strong/fanatic Indian -- that was also an extreme.

No, no. I gave a suggestion, when we celebrated 150 years of 1857. It was a public speech. Hindustan, Pakistan and Bangladesh should rejoin, because after all, 1857 is our common legacy.

We can't run away from our legacy.

Yeh saanjhi virasat hai (this is our common legacy). How can we deny that? This is my public statement. When we recently celebrated 150 years of 1857 and I said it with great sincerity.

'There should be zero tolerance towards terrorism'

Image: Protestors take part in a rally against terrorism in Mumbai
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

Last question. In recent years, terrorism has been on the rise. Now terrorism has no religion. Terrorism is terrorism. But we've seen that Muslims have been, mostly internationally and a few in India as well, and a few Hindus also have been, attracted towards terrorism. It was there within the Sikh community as well. What steps do you think we should take to combat terrorism in our country?

Zero tolerance. Zero tolerance towards terrorism. Secondly, stronger laws are needed. Countries that are champions of human rights have also devised strict laws to deal with terrorism.

But in your state, only people from one community were detained under laws like TADA and POTA, even though...

All POTA cases have been submitted to the Supreme Court of India. And the highest court in this country has validated the terrorist status of all those the Gujarat government has booked under POTA. None of our POTA cases turned out to be false. And not a finger was raised against the state in these cases.

On the other hand, when the Congress government ruled here, TADA was enforced. Our Makrand Desai was the Jan Sangh adhyaksh -- he has passed away now. He held a conference of TADA detainees and 600 people took part. It brought to the attention of the world all those who had been wrongfully detained under TADA. It was probably the first time in world democracy that a party had wrongfully detained so many people and those people were allowed to hold a conference. And most of them were Muslims. Over 80 per cent were Muslims. We brought them in front of the world. In my government, all those who had been accused were proven guilty and punished accordingly.

The Students Islamic Movement of India has been banned. Don't you think parties like Abhinav Bharat should be banned as well?

Firstly, Bharat sanghathan, there has been so clear structure that has materialised so far, like the IM's is slowly happening now.

Even that is not very clear as to where, who and why?

No clear structure has emerged

Are these some fake organisations?

It is the government's responsibility to look into that. What's the point of merely releasing balloons like this?

'I work for 18 hours and people want me to work for 20'

Image: Gujarat's Chief Minister Narendra Modi at a rally in Ahmedabad
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters

What do you think are the challenges that lie ahead of you in these upcoming elections in Gujarat?

Look, our biggest challenge is us, because the people have a lot of expectations of us. From others, they don't make so many requests. From me, they have more expectations. We have to break our own records every time.

Listen: Modi's controversial interview on Gujarat riots

You've set the standards so high...

If somebody works for six hours, then people are happy if that person works for six and half hours...but I work for 18 hours and people want me to work for 20.

There is opposition from within your party. People say that your biggest challenge is coming from within your own party. The mood is one of opposition.

I've left that decision to the public. Always. In 2002, in 2004 during the Lok Sabha elections, in 2005 during the Vidhan Sabha elections, the 2005 local self government elections, the 2007 assembly elections, 2010 local self government elections and the 2009 parliament elections. In 2012 my stand is still the same. In the last ten years, we've fought 6-7 varied elections and we've won all of them. Every single one.

Thank you so much. Usually you don't talk religion but I would like you to give some message for the Indian Muslims.

I'm a small person. I don't have any right to give people a speech or a message. I am a helper and to help is my right. But I would like that all my Muslim brothers and sisters don't merely remain votes for somebody. Today, India's government has reduced them to mere voters. We want to see them as living breathing people. Let them also dream. Spend their lives in the pursuit and fulfillment of their dreams. This is what we want to see.

Unfortunately, in seven years, the government has reduced them to mere voters. They are more than just voters. Let them fulfill their dreams, their children's dreams. This is what we want. And in that regard, however we can help them we would be more than happy to.

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