Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday claimed his government had ended loot in the country in four years. The National Democratic Alliance government “identified seven crore people who were not born but were taking benefits from the government”, he added.

Modi said a former prime minister, purportedly referring to Rajiv Gandhi, had once said only 15% of funds released from the Centre reaches the villages. “He identified the problem, however, never treated it...We ended loot in four years, which the Congress identified, but lacked the will to find a solution,” Modi said, according to the Hindustan Times.

His government has transferred around Rs 5.78 lakh crore to the bank accounts of people through different schemes, Modi said. The prime minister was addressing a gathering after inaugurating the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas convention, a conclave of Indian diaspora, in Varanasi. The three-day convention began on Monday.

Modi said India was in a position to lead the world on several fronts, according to ANI. “International Solar Alliance is one such platform,” he said. “Through this medium, we want to take the world towards One World, One Sun, One Grid.” He said India was among the fastest growing economies and was setting records in the field of space science, reported The Times of India.

“We are moving towards becoming the world’s largest start-up ecosystem, the world’s largest healthcare scheme – Ayushman India – is also running,” NDTV quoted him as saying.

The prime minister said India has made huge progress and left its mark in the world. “This is an excellent forum to engage with the Indian diaspora, which is distinguishing itself all over the world.”

Modi recalled that the campaign to initiate a dialogue with the Indian diaspora was taken by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. “This is the first Pravasi Bharatiya Sammelan after Atal ji’s departure,” he said. “On this occasion, I also pay tribute to Atal ji, I bow to his great thinking.”

Around 5,000 delegates from overseas were expected to participate in the meeting, according to the Hindustan Times. The Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas was postponed from January 9 to January 21 “in reverence to the sentiments of the larger diaspora to participate in Kumbh Mela and Republic Day celebrations”, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement on Monday.

Modi dragging political discourse to gutter level: Congress

Congress leader Anand Sharma lashed out at the prime minister, accusing him of “dragging the political discourse to a gutter level”.

“We have strong objection to what he has said in the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas today,” Sharma said. “He has been misleading the people of India but it was a shocking list of boastful claims typical of Shri Narendra Modi ji. If one has to go by his claims, India came to be recognised only after he became the prime minister. India made achievements from agriculture food production to space sciences, to manufacturing only after Shri Narendra Modi became the prime minister.”

Sharma asked how jobs were being lost instead of being created. “Only couple of weeks ago the CMIE report said that in 2018, 1.1 crore jobs were destroyed,” he said. “ Investment, we are talking both public and private investment, which has fallen by 7 percentage points during Shri Narendra Modi’s tenure. I challenge him to deny or contradict.”

Sharma said if the manufacturing sector was performing well, “then why are exports not there, why jobs are not there, why industrial capacity is not utilised, why investments are not taking place?”

The Congress leader said Modi was “not giving an account of his betrayal” and his promises. “He remains insensitive to the realities of the people of our country, their pain, much of which has been inflicted by reckless decisions,” Sharma added.