Varanasi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday dismissed as “professional pessimists” the critics of the Centre’s target to achieve a $ 5-trillion economy within the next five years and asserted that the “new India” is on the threshold of sprinting forward.
A day after the Union budget was presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the prime minister shared his views on the budget at the launch of the BJP’s membership drive here on the occasion of the 118th birth anniversary of party ideologue Syama Prasad Mookerjee.
Modi said his government’s Budget for 2019-20 lays down a roadmap for nearly doubling the size of the Indian economy to $ 5 trillion in five years by raising per capita income, boosting consumption and increasing productivity.
“Size of the cake matters. The larger the cake, larger pieces are what people will get. So we have set a target of making India a $ 5-trillion economy. Larger the size of the economy will be, the larger prosperity will it bring for the country,” he said.
Citing global examples, he said countries have leapfrogged from developing to developed status on the back of a jump in per capita income.
“India can also do that. The target is not difficult,” he said.
Modi said some people are questioning the need for becoming a $ 5-trillion economy.
“They are what I call professional pessimists. They are detached from the common man and if you go to them for a solution, they will put you in crisis,” he said, adding while there should be debate and criticism on ways and means of achieving the goal, but questioning the target of building a $ 5 trillion economy is wrong.
“The country needs to be wary of these pessimists,” the prime minister said.
Referring to the budgetary provisions, Modi said a “new India” was on the threshold of sprinting forward and recited a few couplets in Hindi which means the challenges before one also offers immense opportunities to surmount them and everyone’s contribution in the development the country will be a true gift for mother India.
Launching his party’s membership drive, Modi said it will further connect people from all walks of life with the saffron party. “The main feeling underlining today’s membership campaign is we should work as ambassadors of the country along with that of the party.”
Explaining the difference between the BJP and other parties, he said, “We said to come together and build the nation. We never said come together and form the government.”
“This is the difference between us and others. A government is only a mechanism which is needed to build the nation… Deendayal Upadhyaya was of the view that government should not merely be a group of people who have gathered for the sake of power,” the prime minister said.
Elaborating his views on the budget, he said it did not have big announcements about allocations made under different heads but laid down a path for the economy to achieve the $ 5-trillion target.
It provides for boosting farm and fisheries exports, making Rs 100 lakh crore investment in infrastructure such as roads and ports in next five years, constructing houses for all, promoting domestic manufacturing and cutting imports, he said.
While the country is self-sufficient in food grain production, the budget emphasises on turning farmers into exporters of farm produce and value-added products. The government’s effort on cleanliness will boost tourism, which is the cheapest form of creating employment, Modi said.
“The economy will not pick up pace unless infrastructure is good. We are building infrastructure from crop storages in villages to modern facilities in cities. Highway, railway, airways, waterways, i-ways, digital infrastructure, broadband in villages… Rs 100 lakh crore will be invested in five years,” the prime minister said.
To boost housing, the budget has given an additional Rs 1.5 lakh income tax exemption on the purchase of affordable houses. Also, the government will build two crore houses to meet the target of housing for all by 2022, he said.
The Centre will draft a model tenancy law and send it to state governments to boost rental housing, Modi said, adding all these will boost employment, create demand for steel, cement and other goods.
“India spends Rs 5-6 lakh crore every year on oil imports, on petrol and diesel. So if it is reduced, it will be a big relief to the country,” he said.
The prime minister said the country has become self-reliant in food grain and pulses production and next it should look at bringing down the import of edible oil.
Earlier, soon after his arrival here on a day-long visit, Modi unveiled a statue of former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri at the airport.
The prime minister was accompanied by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, BJP working president JP Nadda and the state unit chief of the saffron party, Mahendra Nath Pandey. Anil Shastri and Sunil Shastri, sons of late Lal Bahadur Shastri, were also present at the venue.
This is Modi’s second visit to his constituency after winning the parliamentary polls held in April-May. He had visited Varanasi on May 27 to thank the voters after winning the Lok Sabha seat for the second consecutive time by a huge margin of 4.79 lakh votes.
After unveiling Shastri’s statue, the prime minister launched a tree-plantation campaign — “Anand Kanan” — in the temple city.