GG News Bureau
Jammu, 7th June. Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri accused opposition parties of trying to get “political mileage” from the recent train tragedy in Odisha, saying the government’s response to reach out to the victims was prompt.
On BBC, the minister defended the Income Tax survey, saying that democracy in India is strong and that no authority can demolish it.
He claimed that the broadcaster’s “previous actions” indicated that it was in the hands of “people with an agenda on India.”
Puri was in Jammu to highlight the accomplishments of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, which recently completed nine years in power.
“My first engagement on reaching Jammu (on Monday) was a meeting with party workers. We observed a two-minute silence for all the lives lost and to pray for the recovery of those injured in the train accident (on June 2),” the Union Housing and Urban Affairs minister told reporters at the BJP headquarters here.
In response to a query regarding the opposition’s criticism on the central government over the tragedy, which killed 275 lives and injured over 900, he stated that things can go wrong despite all safety precautions.
“What was your reaction is all that matters. The rescue teams were at the spot within minutes and PM Modi also reached there. The Railway Minister camped there for 36 hours, the Health Minister and another minister of state were also there,” Puri said, adding the government tried its best to help the victims and their families.
He said the damaged railway line was made operational within 51 hours but the opposition will not see all this as “they want to make a political point”.
“They should go for self-introspection as this is not the first that such an accident had taken place. NSG commandos took 10 hours to reach Mumbai from Delhi despite the November 26, 2008, terror attack beaming live on the television,” the minister said.
On BBC’s admission of having paid lower taxes than its actual liability following the IT survey on its headquarters in Delhi in February, he said some “intellectuals and misguided” people in the country start condemning without knowing the facts.
“We have people who are not able to differentiate between espionage and freedom of press. Our laws are completely transparent and if you had to pay a tax, the slabs are completely clear. When notice is served to those avoiding taxes, they start making a hue-and-cry,” Mr Puri said.
The minister said he wants to assure the people that India is not only the largest democracy in the world but the country also has a robust democracy and “even if someone wishes, nobody can erode democracy in the country”.
He said he did not want to make a detailed comment on the BBC but its previous actions make it clear that it was in the “hands of people with an agenda on India”.
Talking about the achievements of the BJP-led government, he said work is in progress to reclaim the cultural and historical legacy of the country and make it the world’s largest economy.
“Many of the schemes and projects conceptualised in 2014 are either completed or nearing completion. Those talking about price hike are missing many points, including three crore people living below poverty line and economically weaker sections who have been given affordable houses,” he said.
Puri also talked about the challenging situation in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak, dry ration to 80 crore population, providing tap and electricity connections, making the country defecation-free, and cleanliness drives.
“We are a 3.83-trillion-dollar economy and are bound to surpass two other powers, having 4.1- and 4.3-trillion economies, in the near future and become the third largest economy in the world,” Puri said.
He said that by 2047, when India will complete its 100 years of independence, it will not only be a developed country, but also free from colonial mindset.
On the recent action against wrestlers protesting at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, the minister said, “They were holding a protest (and that) was not a problem at all and nobody stopped them. The day when the new Parliament was being inaugurated, they and some political elements decided to move (towards the parliament). Senior officials tried to solve the issue,” he said.
Puri said section 144 CrPc was imposed there and when somebody breaks the law, action becomes necessary.