As the Narendra Modi government completes its four years in office, Col. (retd) Rajyavardhan Rathore, minister of state for information and broadcasting, lists the accomplishments of its government, its fight against corruption and attempts at providing relief to the underprivileged. Speaking to Nitin Mahajan, the minister also points out that the recent coming together of various Opposition parties is nothing but an attempt by corrupt parties to capture power, forgetting their core ideologies and differences.
What have been the accomplishments of the Narendra Modi government over the past four years?
The Modi government has worked on core development areas with a very high quality of governance methods with an objective of transforming the country. There are three aspects: development, better governance and methods for transforming the country. Our policies have been visionary. And our execution of policies has been factually proven by numbers of lives we have touched. In the last four years it is the same country but a different impact globally. It has been the same bureaucrats and government officers but the output has been like that of private sector. This word “sarkari” (anything concerning the government) used to be a synonym for lack of output. It is no longer valid. With Prime Minister Narendra Modi in charge, our standing in global community is very high now.
What is your reaction to Opposition criticism that the BJP government has been unable to get the economy into motion?
The government has focused on infrastructure, women and youth empowerment. Take an example of seven crore toilets being constructed across the country under the Swachchh Bharat initiative. It is not merely construction of toilets but reducing the dropout rates of girl students in schools and enhancing the quality of life for women. A woman is the nucleus of a family keeping this in mind four-crore gas connections have also been issued to the underprivileged. This has led to a positive impact, improved the health parameters of women, who are the backbone of our economy. Another case in point is the allocation of over 70 per cent of loan disbursements to women under the Mudra scheme. There are in all 10 crore beneficiaries in the scheme. Our government’s push for infrastructure projects and road construction can also be seen as an attempt at job creation. The road will lead to better connectivity and infrastructure and further boost job creation.
The Opposition’s charges are always very vague and broad-based... and we are being charged by those responsible for the Commonwealth Games scam. We are listening to people who did zero modernisation of armed forces, did nothing for implementation of one rank one pension despite being in power for 40 years. We are being compared to a party that never once gave a military response to terrorism being promoted by the neighbouring country.
The Opposition has also targeted the Modi government and claimed that it has been unable to provide relief to the farm sector as compared to earlier governments?
The comparison is incorrect. We are giving facts and figures for every claim that we make. In farming sector we have brought in neem coating of urea. Farmers say they have benefited. Our aim is to make technology available to the farmer on his mobile phone. He is not dependent on the middleman and is also saved from cartelisation. New techniques of saving water have also been introduced. The agricultural loan of `11 lakh crores is now availed to farmers. Fisheries, bee keeping, poultry and cattle rearing are being promoted. The declassification of bamboo from a tree to a grass has been very helpful to farmers as they now have other avenues of money generation. One of the most important steps initiated by this government is the insurance cover being provided to farmers even if the destruction of crop by natural calamity is 33 per cent. Earlier this crop destruction needed to stand at 50 per cent for farmers being eligible for compensation. Earlier only standing crop was eligible for compensation. However, this government has decided to bring in freshly sown crops and harvested crops also eligible for compensation in case of destruction.
The Opposition has been targeting the government over spiralling prices of petroleum. Is the government doing something to address the growing prices?
We should remember that the issue here is that taxes on petroleum products are levied by the Centre and state governments. The Congress and Opposition like to take up the issue of price rise and ask the Centre to reduce its share of taxes but they do not go ahead and reduce these in their respective states. Our government wants to bring petroleum products under the GST, but state governments are not supporting our proposal. However, despite this non-cooperation, the Centre is thinking of bringing in a long-term policy on the pricing of petroleum products, which could provide long-term relief to citizens.
After the recent government formation and a united Opposition in Karnataka, is the BJP worried? What is the gameplan to take them on?
This is the second time that the Opposition has come together. The first time it had united to oppose the Emergency. Today they are united in opposing a sachchi (true) and imandar sarkar (honest government). The corrupt parties have come together forgetting their core ideologies and differences just for the sake of power. The 2019 Lok Sabha polls will be a war between black and white. The Modi government has always been against kaala dhan (black money) and bhrashtachar (corruption). Take note of the fact that we have seen a surge in income-tax returns to the tune of over 90 lakh new assesses ever since the Modi government came to power. This is almost doubling of people now under the tax net. This shows that the common and honest people are supporting the honest government led by our Prime Minister. This government is for the honest, by the honest and of the honest.
There has been a talk of online media regulation being looked at by this government. What are the plans of the government regarding the sector?
The government knows that the Indian media has been self-regulating itself. We believe that every good media house has checks and balances and self-regulation in place and there is no need for any regulation. On the online content too we believe in self-regulation. This is in line with our policy on all other media platforms. Moreover, we trust the consumer to be able to judge the right from wrong.
Being an Olympic medal winner yourself and heading the ministry of sports what are your plans for the athletes?
The sportspersons give their blood and sweat when they represent the country. It is important that people managing sports bodies are equally knowledgeable and accountable to deliver for the nation. All sports bodies are accountable to the countrymen. Every time an Indian plays it is the prestige of every Indian that is on the line. To improve the existing outcomes we are thinking out of the box to catch the young and put them into action. Our target being Olympics, the ministry of sports will set a good example for state governments as a state subject.
What was the cause behind the launch of #HumFitTohIndiaFit campaign?
The campaign was launched as we feel that a person’s health and well-being is supreme. It is above any politics of gender, caste, religion and creed. If a person is healthy he can work better and become a contributing partner to his family and society.