Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit out at the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for "looting" public money and claimed that during the two years of his regime there was no charge of corruption.
He also welcomed the minute scrutiny of his work by the opposition and media.
“Before I became the prime minister everyday newspapers and news channels were filled with corruption reports,” Modi said addressing a rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur town to mark two years of his government at the Centre, adding, “I was shocked to find out the previous government had looted every bit of public money.”
“Do people come to power to loot public funds? Don’t know where the last government spent its money,” he questioned.
He further said that during the two years of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government there has been no case of graft and his government is accountable for every single penny.
“I took the pains to end corruption in this country. There has been no case of corruption against our government so far. Even our opponents could not point fingers at us,” Modi said.
Modi’s speech to mark two years of his government was mainly focused on farmers and the poor.
“Our work is being minutely scrutinised. If my government does something wrong, it runs on TV for 24 hours. I welcome this close scrutiny of my work. The government should be held accountable for every day, every penny,” he said.
Taking a pot shot at the previous government for its slow pace of development, Modi said: “During UPA government, many announcements were made but nothing happened at ground level. But under my government the pace of road construction has doubled.”
“We are committed to connect all the villages in the country by a network of concrete roads,” he said.
He also vowed to electrify all the villages and said, “It is shameful for me that even after around 70 years of independence thousands of villages in our country don’t have electricity. I take pride in saying that in the last two years 6,000 villages have got electricity. And by 2022, when we would celebrate our 75th year of Independence, all the villages of the country would be electrified.”
Modi also announced to increase the retirement age of doctors and said, “As we are facing a huge shortage of doctors in the country, our government is working on a plan to extend the retirement age of the doctors to 65 years.”
“The cabinet will soon approve a bill to increase the retirement age of government doctors from 60 to 65 years,” he added.
Modi said it will help doctors serve the nation till the time more new doctors join the profession.
The prime minister requested the doctors to offer free health services to pregnant women on the ninth of every month.
“Earlier also, I had requested the doctors and today again I request them to provide free health services to pregnant women on the ninth of every month,” Modi said.
“This free health service for 12 days in a year will ensure that no mother bears the pain of poverty.”
“As I have said from the ramparts of Red Fort that I am not a prime minister, but a pradhan sewak of the 1.25 billion people of India, so I work non-stop to fulfill the aspirations of the poor and marginalised people of society,” he said.
“In the last two years I have tried my best to make the states more powerful so that it can work for the uplift of the poor and marginalised,” he added.
The prime minister also listed the flagship schemes and policies of his government.
“I have actually undertaken the maximum reforms,” Modi said in an interview to the Wall Street Journal on the eve of his second anniversary in office.
But, he added, “I have an enormous task ahead for myself.”
The prime minister said he has set a path for accelerated growth that the states now need to help navigate.
Modi said that many of the changes he has put in place would have been regarded in previous administrations as difficult to implement, but now that he has done them, to his critics they no longer qualify as “big bang”.
He said he has “opened up more of the economy to foreign investment and made changes to curb corruption, filled gaps in rural infrastructure and made it easier to do business”.
The prime minister also said he would look to states to further liberalise the country’s rigid labour laws.
“Labour reform should not just mean in the interest of industry. It should also be in the interest of the labourer,” Modi said.
He said he expects the long-pending Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill to be passed this year.
The bill has been stuck in the Rajya Sabha of parliament, where the government is in a minority.
Modi said in the last two years, India played a prominent role in global affairs.
“Today, unlike before, India is not standing in a corner,” he said.
Modi will visit Washington early next month where he is to meet President Barack Obama and address a joint session of the US Congress.
He took office as prime minister two years ago, pledging to improve the nation’s fortunes.
The Congress lashed out at the Narendra Modi-led government for what it said was failure on all counts, as Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel called the opposition leaders a bunch of “copycats and blockheads”.
Congress leader Manish Tewari told reporters in Ahmedabad that the Modi government had failed on parameters of internal security, economy, foreign policy, communal harmony and upholding the principles of federalism.
“We want to ask the prime minister as to how he has been able to better the life of the common man in the last two years? This is the basic question the prime minister needs to answer. You promised ‘achhe din’ and ‘Sabka saath sabka vikas’,” Tewari said.
He listed out what he called Modi government’s failure, including intolerance, attack on federalism in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh.
“If he had an iota of shame, he would have resigned the day courts made observations against the way the central government had tried to upstage the Uttarakhand government,” Tewari said.
Calling Modi’s foreign policy a ‘sair sapata’ (fun travel), the Congress leader said India had achieved nothing from Modi’s frequent foreign travels.
“This is a government that has no idea about its own policy of dealing with Pakistan. The United Progressive Alliance (government) firmly dealt with China but today the relationship seems to have gone completely awry, with China opposing India on more than one international platform. What has global rallies of Modi with the Indian diaspora achieved?” he asked.
On internal security, Tewari pointed out at attacks on paramilitary forces in Naxal- dominated areas and terrorist attacks in Punjab.
On the economic front, he said the government claim of 7.5 percent growth rate are due to the change in base year.
“They have shrunk the Indian economy and it is not growing beyond 4.5 percent and not as per the statistical web created by the NDA. Not one job has been created compared with the promised two crore jobs. People are being fooled by launching various schemes, nothing else,” he alleged.
As for corruption and scams during the UPA rule, Tewari said not one person had been convicted by the courts so far.
On the other hand, addressing a rally to celebrate her and Prime Minister Narendra Modi governments’ two years in office, Chief Minister Anandiben Patel said the Congress was copying the state government’s ‘Lok Samvad Setu’ programme by holding ‘lok darbars’ at taluka headquarters.
“They are not using their brains even in copying. If they indeed did so, India would not have become Congress-mukt,” she told the gathering.
She said the Congress was unable to do anything original.
“I, along with my ministers and government officials, go to the people and solve their issues on the spot. The Congress cannot solve even one issue because its leaders don’t have the ability. What is the use of holding such darbars then?” she asked.
In response, Tewari said it reflected the “arrogant attitude of the BJP, and that they don’t care about democratic values”. (IANS)