By ANAND KULTANA The Hindu | November 27, 2017 12:02:04 India’s prime minister Narendra Modi has defended his recent comments that he will contest the 2019 general election and is not interested in running for the leadership, saying he has been in office for less than three years.
The comment was made on Friday at the launch of the government’s economic agenda and was a response to a question about whether the government would pursue the idea of scrapping the country’s 86-year-old Constitution and replacing it with a new one.
Speaking to a gathering of students at a Delhi university, Modi, who has led India since 2013, said: “I will not contest in 2019.
If I don’t run for the post of Prime Minister, I will have no reason to do so.
The reason why I said this is because, during my last term, I had been in power for less to more than three-and-a-half years.”
Modi said his government had been moving towards economic reform, which he said was necessary to address India’s problems.
“When you have been in a position of power for so many years, you know what is required,” he said.
“If you do not do it, you will have to make a decision on the constitutional position of your country.
The issue of the Constitution has been discussed for a long time, and you know the Constitution is not perfect.”
Modi’s comments come after the opposition Congress party took a swipe at his comments and asked why he had not been more aggressive in pushing through reforms.
“The BJP and its allies have said Narendra Modi was in power only because he promised to be the Prime Minister for less time,” Congress leader and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted on Friday.
“Why is he now asking for a new mandate?”
Modi’s cabinet reshuffle in October saw his reshuffle bringing in new appointments that included former Reserve Bank governor Rajan Menon as finance minister.
He was replaced by Manmohan Singh, who was re-elected as the countrys first Prime Minister in 2019 after serving for five years.
On Thursday, the BJP called Modi’s statements “ridiculously simplistic”, adding: “He said he would have won if he ran for the Prime Ministership.”
Modi has been a leader of the BJP since it formed in 2014.
He is the youngest ever Prime Minister to lead the party and was elected as the party’s prime ministerial candidate in May 2019.
His government is in the midst of a series of reforms aimed at making the economy more inclusive, while also ensuring that it maintains its status as the world’s largest democracy.