Prime Minister Narendra Modi today asked BJP leaders to refrain from making “irresponsible” statements, saying such comments hurt the party’s image. In an interaction with the party’s MPs, MLAs and other representatives, Modi said leaders at times jump to make statements in front of the media and end up providing “masala” (fodder to controversies). There is no point then blaming it for controversies, he said. “Don’t blame the media. It is doing its job. It’s our job to not get entangled in every thing and guide the nation on every issue by standing in front of the TV. Those with the responsibility of speaking on the issue will do it,” he said.
Touching on the subject of some party leaders making embarrassing comments, Modi said his remarks might seem bitter but must be made. “At times our workers talk a lot about the media doing this, media doing that. But have we thought that we end up giving ‘masala’ to the media with our mistakes? As if we are some social scientists or scholars who can analyse every problem. The moment we see a cameraperson we rush to make a statement. The media will use the part which it finds useful. It is not its fault. We will have to restrain ourselves,” he said.
Modi’s suggestion to the party members against speaking out of turn to the media comes against the backdrop of some BJP leaders making controversial comments on the recent rape incidents and Dalit issues. According to a video of interaction posted on Modi’s website, he said if everybody makes comments, then it ends up harming the nation’s, party’s and their personal image. He recalled that when the BJP came to power at the Centre in 2014, there were eight to ten MPs who would speak a lot on different issues but has since not let the party down after he spoke to them.
According to a party statement, Modi also underlined the support the BJP had received from backward sections of the society by noting that it had the maximum number of elected lawmakers from OBC, Dalit and tribal communities, and asserted that its reach was no longer confined to a particular class, urban centres or north India. Modi told party leaders that their responsibility has risen as public support has increased for the BJP. His comments, made during an interaction with the party’s MPs, MLAs and other representatives through his mobile application, assume significance in the wake of opposition parties’ attempts to put up a united front against the saffron party over Dalit issues and also criticism of some BJP leaders for making irresponsible statements.
A BJP release quoted Modi as saying that the party has managed to win over support of the rural masses as he also made a reference to the party’s win in local polls in Jharkhand. He also asked MPs and MLAs to take a resolve to solve four to five problems of the villages falling in their respective constituencies as he issued them several instructions to observe the ongoing ‘Gram Swaraj’ campaign between April 14 and May 5. The BJP has not come to power due to mistakes of the Congress but because it has always stayed connected to the people and now their job in power is to solve problems facing the masses, Modi said.
The perception about the BJP that it was a party of a particular class and urban centres or north India has changed and it has emerged as an “all-touching and all-inclusive” organisation, he said. “Our mass base is increasing among all sections of the society and this is our biggest asset,” the party statement quoted him as saying. Modi asked party leaders and workers to use technology a lot to link villages to development works.
Taking on the criticism that his government had not created enough jobs, he said lifestyle and sources of livelihood have changed in villages as he emphasised his government’s efforts to boost self-employment. Those doing politics over employment figure may do so but the government will provide the masses with self-employment opportunities by developing skills of the youth, he said. Modi asked party workers to work to spread harmony in villages and bring development to the poor, farmers, Dalits and tribals.
Talking of his government’s ambitious health insurance scheme, ‘Ayushmaan Bharat’, he said wellness centres will be built in over 1.5 lakh panchayats by 2022 with the programme aiming to cover 10 crore families with a cover of Rs 5 lakh. He also made a mention of several of his government’s welfare schemes aimed at farmers, youths and women among others and asked his party’s lawmakers to spread their reach. Modi will speak to the party workers of the poll-bound Karnataka through the video bridge technology on April 26, the statement said.
He noted that while the party’s leaders have been staying overnight in over 20,000 villages, which have over 50 per cent population of Dalits and tribals, to take welfare schemes to the masses, more than 1,000 central government officials are also staying in over 500 districts for the same purpose. Over 11 lakh LPG connections were distributed on a day recently, he said. Modi also answered questions from elected representatives on various issues including skill development of the youth, rural development and farmers welfare. To a question on improving lives of people in villages, he laid stress on the collective power of people and referred to Anna Hazare’s village in Maharashtra where the social activist had focused on cleanliness and how the village had become a model for others to follow.