PMO concealing information on Sonia trips: Modi


New Delhi – Accusing the UPA government of treating Gujarat as an ‘enemy state’, Chief Minister Narendra Modi has said the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) was concealing information about Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s trips abroad. He also reiterated that his focus was Gujarat and reports of his prime ministerial ambitions were mere speculation.

In an interview with CNN-IBN, Modi said he had not asked about expenses incurred on Sonia Gandhi’s treatment but on her foreign visits. He accused the PMO of concealing information under the Right to Information Act (RTI) and said it had only answered on Sonia Gandhi’s visits for treatment, not her foreign trips.

He said the PMO was not respecting RTI and the entire issue was maligning Gandhi’s image. “That’s why I asked the PMO to come out with the exact figures.”

Asked about his claim that Rs.1,880 crore had been spent in the last three years on Sonia Gandhi’s foreign visits, Modi said newspapers and magazines had given the figure based on an agency report. “I just talked about the figures published in newspapers. The RTI activists are raising questions, not me.”

He said he was not targeting any individual.

“Gujarat is not fighting against the centre. We have complained that in the last eight years, the central government has treated Gujarat like an enemy state. They have treated Gujarat in a way that is also not expected for an enemy nation. The central agencies are being used against Gujarat.

“Gujarat is the growth engine of the country today,” he said, adding that the Manmohan Singh-led government, for political reasons, was leaving nothing to chance to ruin the state.

Modi said he had not raised question about Sonia Gandhi’s health and the country should be concerned about her treatment. “India is a liberal country, we have big hearts, whatever expenses may be there from the government exchequer we should not bother about that and spend for her health. This should be kept out of the purview of RTI.”

Asked if it was Modi versus Sonia Gandhi in Gujarat, Modi said many people were “converting the issues like this” since last 11 years but he had cleared his position.

On the possibility of his emerging as the prime ministerial candidate, Modi said he wanted to take Gujarat to new heights and will continue to do pursue his aim.

“Have the people of this country given the mandate to the media in Delhi to find out the prime minister in 2014. I’ve been repeating that the six crore Gujaratis have given me the responsibility of Gujarat… In 2012 election, BJP will register a spectacular win in Gujarat. My dream is to build ‘Divya and Bhavya Gujarat (great Gujarat)’ and after this election I will concentrate all my efforts on that.”

Asked about the scars of 2002 riots, Modi said media houses were “surviving on this”. “The Modi critics are being rewarded with Rajya Sabha seats and Padma Awards. I wish you all the best to keep this alive and get into Rajya Sabha or get Padma awards,” Modi said.

Modi admitted he was a workaholic. “I’m an RSS worker. Since my early RSS years I used to get up at ‘brahm muhurt’ (early morning) that is just… before 3 a.m. But after coming into politics it has become 5 a.m. now.”

He did not answer questions on senior BJP leader Keshubhai Patel leaving the party, his visiting Bihar or apologising for 2002 communal riots in the state to further his prospects of emerging as prime ministerial candidate.

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