Congress has been India's main pillar of politics: PM Modi

New Delhi, Jan 22: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the Congress had been the "main pillar" that shaped India's political landscape and culture of all political parties in the country, asserting that by the phrase 'Congress-free India', he didn't mean the party's electoral rout.

"The Congress has been the main pillar of politics in our country that influenced the culture in all political parties," Modi told a private news channel in an interview.

He said the Congress at the time of India's freedom struggle had inspired people so much that they were ready to throw their lives for the country but post-Independence, it acquired traits of casteism, dynasty and corruption to keep control over power.

"I want to change that culture of politics, the mainstream of which is dynasty. Congress is an idea. So when I say Congress-free India, it is not related to election outcomes. I would want that even the Congress on its own should free itself of the Congress culture.

"The Congress at the time of freedom struggle had a culture which inspired the youth to sacrifice their lives for the country. But the culture of the Congress that emerged after Independence started appealing to other political parties.

"Casteism, dynasty, corruption and exploitation, treachery and keeping complete control over power - all this became a part of Indian political culture whose main pillar was the Congress."

Modi strongly advocated the idea of holding parliamentary elections and state polls together to rid the exchequer of financial burden.

"Logically speaking, holding different elections on different dates creates burden on the exchequer. Politicians are always under stress. So, I think both Vidhan Sabha (state assemblies) and Lok Sabha elections should be organised simultaneously. It will save money and manpower."

The Prime Minister also criticized the Congress for its opposition to the bill to criminalise the practice of instant divorce. The legislation passed by the Lok Sabha could not be taken up for discussion in the Rajya Sabha where the ruling NDA didn't have numbers to get it passed.

The Congress-led opposition opposed certain provisions of the bill and demanded that it may be referred to a select committee.

Modi said opposition to the legislation was "regressive" and the Congress needed to get rid of this attitude.

"The Congress or any party that indulges in vote bank politics must get out of this regressive mindset and think from the point of view of women empowerment and respect for women.

"Even the strongest people were moved to tears by the condition of those women who were affected by triple talaq. They needed to be saved; this was not a political move or a move to corner anybody. It was a move to let everyone live with dignity."

The Prime Minister also spoke about opposition to demonetisation and said some tried to sabotage the move to "save the corrupt" but the nation saw through it successfully.

"People tried to start a fire, they even attempted to incite riots, they knocked on the Supreme Court's door, they tried everything possible. These attempts were to save those who were hoarding black money, to save corrupt people, to save the dishonest," he said.

He said demonetisation was not just a change of currency and the way it was carried out got the world's respect.

"Several small countries of world tried to carry out demonetisation in their lands but retreated. It is India's great success that this was not just a change of one currency with another, but the way the country's federal structure, its governance, its common man, RBI's role... is enough to get it respect of the world," he said.

Modi also spoke on Congress President Rahul Gandhi terming goods and services tax (GST) as 'Gabbar Singh Tax'.

"If GST succeeds, everyone is responsible and if it fails, it is everyone's responsibility. It does not belong to one government. A number of governments and political parties have contributed to its creation over a long time period and passage in Parliament. If these people use bad words to denigrate GST, they are denigrating Parliament.

"Whenever, whosoever got the opportunity, they attempted to push GST. We are making efforts in the direction of one nation, one tax. No one has actually opposed GST. Theoretically, everyone accepts GST."


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