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India opted for tough stand at WTO to protect poor: PM

India opted for tough stand at WTO to protect poor PM New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the government “chose” to take a tough stand in the recent WTO talks as it has to protect the interest of the poor people of the country rather than to look for good publicity in the international media.

“There are attempts to spread doubts on WTO. Should we choose in favour of our farmers or for getting good international publicity in the media? We have chosen the former. We have chosen the interest of the poor people of the country,” Modi said at the BJP’s National Council meeting here.

Last month, WTO talks in Geneva failed on account of the tough stand taken by India on its food security issue. New Delhi refused to ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement

(TFA), which aims at easing customs procedures and is dear to the developed world.

International media has criticised India’s stand at the WTO saying it would jeopardise the Bali agreement and hamper the credibility of the global multi-lateral trade body.

Modi also hit out at the Congress led UPA government regime, saying “those who sought votes in the name of food security, signed the agreement (sacrificing the interest poor people)”.

Former Union Minister Anand Sharma had signed the agreement at Bali last year which among other things had agreed for signing the TFA by July 31, 2014.

The agreement also has a peace clause under which India’s public stock-holding, necessary for its food security programme, will not be questioned for four years ending 2017 even if it breached the 10 per cent WTO ceiling on food subsidy.

India in Geneva has insisted that TFA should be taken up along with efforts to find a permanent solution to public stock-holding for food security purposes.

“We are judged by different and tough yardsticks. I don’t know why it is happening. Only time will tell. But we should accept this challenge. It is good for us that we are judged by stringent yardstick. We will pass the test,” Modi said.

“I have myself come out of 14 years of trial,” said the former Gujarat Chief Minister who was constantly under attack over the 2002 riots. Noting that people have given their verdict through the ballot, he said, “it is our turn now” and “we will adequately fulfill the aspirations of people.”

Contending that things have started changing after 60 days of BJP coming to power, Modi said, “we will be successful in bringing about the change.. we have to have faith in ourselves. We will never bow before adversities.”

He said after being at the helm of government for 60 days, he has got the grasp of things and is confident that major tasks can be executed. Modi said that outlook of the world towards India has changed because BJP has come to power with full majority. “It reposes confidence in them (foreign countries),” he said.

He underlined the need for taking advantage globally of the fact that BJP has got such a big majority. Taking a dig at his rivals, he said questions were asked as to “who knows Modi outside Gujarat” but “people were in a mood to give and they gave”.

The Prime Minister admitted that he knew very little about Delhi or Parliament before winning the elections but after 60 days, he was confident of fulfilling the expectations of the people.

He recalled that at the start of the election campaign he had started saying that BJP should get 300 seats on its own. “Some of my colleagues said why I am talking about numbers.

But I felt that people had made up their mind to vote for BJP and just wanted someone to ask for it,” said Modi who led the party’s campaign as its Prime Ministerial candidate.

Modi suggests that BJP should dedicate each year to promoting social causes like energy conservation, toilets, girl child education.