Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday finally broke his silence on his controversial foreign trips. He was asked during a rare interview whether his foreign visits were all about photo ops and no concrete action.
In response, Modi rejected the allegations saying that every prime minister had a similar number of foreign trips. He said, “Every prime minister has almost the same number of foreign trips. There is not much difference here. That’s because there are too many international forums. So, you have to attend (these forums).”
Another justification he made was that if someone less than the prime minister’s level went to these summits, ‘then your voice is not heard.’ “So it has become kind of essential to go (on these trips),” he continued.
He added, “Earlier there used to be us the UN General Assembly. You would go there, meet leaders from around the world and make your point. This would be enough. Now, you have G20 and many more. Even if I try and list them out, I will miss out on a few names.”
He said that even former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ‘would do this.’ “The difference now is that I club a few nearby countries so that we can save on expenses and get more work done. My effort is to convey India’s message to the world, he added.
Modi then said that earlier no one could notice the PM’s foreign visit neither in the destination country nor in India. He said, “My case is such that when I go, people notice, since I meet people, do some work, take decisions. And I believe I must do so for the country.”
Recently, Modi’s own government had informed the parliament that his foreign trips since 2014 had cost Indian tax payers Rs 2,021 crore as he travelled to 55 countries in 48 foreign trips. The cost included money spent on chartered flights, maintenance of aircraft and hotline facilities.