(IANS) Asserting his authority in no uncertain terms, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday ticked off BJP leader Subramanian Swamy over his “publicity stunts”, and said India can now speak to China eye-to-eye despite having “a whole lot of problems”.
In a wide-ranging interview with TimesNow television, the Prime Minister urged the media to stop looking at everything from the Pakistani prism and said Indian troops “have full freedom to answer back in whatever manner they have to” in the event of border clashes.
Coming out unequivocally in support of the outgoing RBI Governor who had been denounced publicly by Swamy, Modi said “those who are creating controversies are being unjust to Raghuram Rajan”.
“I believe Raghuram Rajan’s patriotism is no less than any of ours. It will be doing injustice to him if one says that he (Rajan) will serve the country only if he is at a particular post,” the Prime Minister said, responding to Swamy’s charges but without taking the MP’s name.
“Those who speak such language are doing great injustice to him… I believe such things (criticism) are inappropriate. The nation won’t benefit from such publicity stunts.
“One should be more responsible while conducting themselves. Anyone who believes he is bigger than the system is wrong.” He added: “I have a very clear message. I have no two minds about it.”
This is the first time Modi has come out openly against any Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader since taking office in May 2014.
Modi went on to say that he knew the RBI chief well and that “whatever post he holds, wherever he is, he is someone who will continue to serve the country. He is someone who loves his country”.
Without specifically answering questions on China’s blocking of India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Modi said: “We don’t have one problem with China, we have a whole lot of problems pending with China.
“On some issues, they differ with us and there are issues on which we differ with them. There are some basic differences. But the most important thing is we can speak to China eye-to-eye and put forth India’s interests in an unambiguous manner.”
Modi said he met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Tashkent three days ago and “told him clearly about India’s interests”.
He underlined that in foreign policy it was not necessary to have similar views to have a conversation. “Even when the views are contradictory, talks are the only way forward and problems should be resolved through dialogue.”
On Pakistan, which Modi last visited in December, the Prime Minister called upon the media not to view things from Islamabad’s prism and added: “It has been our biggest shortcoming and mistake that we have been tagging ourselves with another country and trying to do things.”
The Prime Minister said “there are different types of forces operating in Pakistan. But the (Indian) government only engages with a democratically elected system”.
Underlining the problem of multiple authorities in Pakistan, Modi said the issue for New Delhi was who to deal with. “Will it be with the elected government or other actors? That is why India will have to be on alert all the time. India will have to be alert every moment. There can never be any laxity in this.”
On foreign policy, Modi made it clear that it was team work at play, involving key ministries as well as his own office. “The impact that is now visible, is not just because of Modi, it is because of the team.”
Commenting on recent terror attacks, the Prime Minister said his government had stepped up pressure on terrorists and their schemes were proving unsuccessful.
“It is because of this disappointment that such incidents are taking place,” he said, in reference to Saturday’s attack on a CRPF vehicle which left eight troopers dead in Jammu and Kashmir.
Alleging that people were given the opportunity to launder money “here and there” during 2011-14, Modi said his government had framed stringent laws to bring back unaccounted wealth stashed abroad “and whoever comes in its fold will know how strict the law is”.
Asked about economic offenders who are now abroad, Modi said his government was determined to act against them. “The people have confidence that if there is someone who can do this, it is Narendra Modi and he will do it.”
The BJP veteran implicitly accused the Congress of trying to stifle debate in Parliament and said it was unfair to target the entire opposition for disruptions in the house. “There is one party which has problems. And the whole world knows that party.”