New Delhi: Answering his critics, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said he has used his monthly radio programme 'Mann Ki Baat' to reflect the views and aspirations of the people rather than expressing his own opinions.
He said he had kept this three-year-old programme away from politics and had tried to connect with the people without getting swayed by the (political) "heat" and "anger" that may prevail at any particular time.
In the 36th episode of the radio broadcast which was launched on October 2, 2014, Modi expressed confidence that social scientists, universities, research scholars and media experts would conduct analysis of the programme and highlight its positives and negatives, which would be beneficial for it.
During the 30-minute broadcast, he recalled some of the issues flagged by him through the programme over the last three years, talked about the cleanliness campaign, urged the countrymen to explore the incredible diversity and beauty of India and spoke about the FIFA Under-17 world cup tournament being held in the country.
He also hailed wives of two martyrs who recently joined the Army and appreciated the cleanliness drive being carried out by 18-year-old Bilal Dar in Srinagar. 'Mann Ki Baat' programme reflects positive strength of the country, Modi said.
"(Through the programme) I got a unique opportunity of connecting with the people and knowing their feelings, wishes,
aspirations and even complaints and I never said that this is my 'Mann Ki Baat' (my voice)," the prime minister said.
He was clearly answering his critics from the opposition parties who have been accusing him of expressing only his views through the programme and not listening to the voice of the people.
Modi said through this programme, he reflects views of the people who keep sending him inputs through emails, by telephone and on MyGov app and NarendraModi App.
He said he receives inputs continuously from all corners of the country but he is able to articulate only a few of these during the 30-minute radio programme.
"Most of the inputs are to encourage me. A large number of inputs are regarding improvements in governance. Sometimes, there are personal complaints and sometimes my attention is drawn to public issues," he said.
He said it had helped him understand the feelings of the common people in such a short time.
"The result is that there is sensitivity in the government and attention has gone towards the strengths that exist even in far off places," the prime minister said.
He said while conducting the 'Mann Ki Baat' programme, he always kept in mind the teachings of Acharya Vinobha Bhave, a spiritualist who is best known for his land reform movement decades back.
"Acharya Vinobha Bhave always used to say that 'apolitical is effective'. I too tried to keep the people of this country at the centre of 'Mann Ki Baat' programme. I kept it away from politics," Modi said.
"I have tried to remain connected with you, with a stable mind, instead of getting swayed by the heat, anger that may prevail at a particular time," he said.
He recalled that in the last episode of the programme, a "pledge" was taken for launching a cleanliness campaign 15 days ahead of Mahatma Gandhi's birthday on October 2.
He said President Ram Nath Kovind had started this campaign and all sections of the society had got associated with it, be it the sports stars, cine stars, academicians, schools, colleges, universities, farmers, officers or armed forces personnel.
"Pressure has got built that public places will no more be allowed to be made dirty," the prime minister said, adding various initiatives have been undertaken in this regard. He hailed the media for playing a role in this endeavour.
Modi made a special mention of Bilal Dar, saying he has been carrying out a cleanliness drive on his own for last 5-6 years, collecting used bottles, plastic and other material thrown into a lake near Srinagar.
Dar has now been made a brand ambassador of cleanliness by the Srinagar municipality, the prime minister noted, while underlining that only cine stars or sports heroes are not made brand ambassadors.
He also appreciated Swati Mahadik, widow of Colonel Santosh Mahadik, and Nidhi Dubey, widow of Naik Mukesh Dubey, who recently joined the Army to serve the country.
"It is natural for every countryman to have respect for these brave women. I congratulate these sisters. They have created new inspiration and awareness among the people of the country," the prime minister said.
Turning to the upcoming month, he said October should be devoted to the Indian icons like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Jai Prakash Narain and Nanaji Deshmukh who were born in this month. Before that, the birth anniversary of Deen Dayal Upadhyay falls on September 25, he said.
"What was the common thing among all these greats? Their sole objective was to live for the country and do something for the country and they proved it," Modi said. Icons like Mahatma Gandhi, Narain and Upadhyay were such that they remained far away from power, he added.
On the birth anniversary of Sardar Patel on October 31, a 'Run for Unity -- Ek Bharat, Shresht Bharat' will be organised, the prime minister said. He paid tributes to former president A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.
He also urged the countrymen to travel within the country to explore the diversity and richness of Indian culture, even though he had no objection to their going abroad for tourism.
He said the government has prepared a five-year roadmap till 2022, when the country would celebrate 75th anniversary of its independence, to realise the dreams of the freedom fighters as well as crores of its nationals.