Addressing the 'Jagran Forum' organised by the Dainik Jagran media group, he said, "People with big surnames came to power and went but no solution could be found to the problems." He was making an oblique reference to the Nehru-Gandhi family.
"In the last four years, you have yourself witnessed this change. Figures speak for itself. But this did not happen in the past. If poverty was alleviated, how would the slogan of 'garibi hatao' be given... It would hit vote bank politics," Modi said.
He was referring to the slogan 'garibi hatao' (remove poverty) slogan given by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in the 1971 Lok Sabha elections.
Modi said when the poor and deprived will get basic amenities such as toilets, gas connection, power supply and bank accounts, then "the poor will be able to defeat poverty themselves".
He said today, the government has the courage to aim high and take big decisions because it is a strong government which has the full mandate of the electorate. "For a new India, the focus of the government is on ability, resources, culture and security."
He suggested that while there was no shortage of funds in the past, what was actually missing was the passion to get things done. He also said, solutions were present, but what was needed was sensitivity.
Modi also claimed that work culture was missing in the past, though the bureaucrats, the system and the people are the same today, things are moving at a faster pace now.
"Our youth are talented and hardworking too. We have abundance of natural resources. Despite having all these, why could our country not prosper," he asked.
Modi cited figures such as number of people paying income tax and number of entities registered with GST to drive home his point that more has been achieved under his government than during previous regimes.
"Can you imagine that before we came to power, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Tripura were not on the rail map of India... Why is it that 67 years after independence, only 38 per cent rural households had toilets and how the number went up to 95 per cent in the last four years," he said.
Modi also expressed the hope that that India's efforts to ensure that economic offenders who flee the country do not get safe haven abroad will show results.
"India has put forth some suggestions before the international community to ensure that people "who commit economic offences, those who are fugitives... should not get any sanctuary anywhere in the world", Modi said.
"I am confident that our campaign will show results," he said.
The prime minister said he put across New Delhi's stand before the strong economies at the recent G-20 meet in Argentina.
The government is working to bring back people like Vijay Mallya, Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi for their alleged involvement in scams.
India presented a nine-point agenda to G-20 countries, calling for "strong and active cooperation" to comprehensively deal with fugitive economic offenders.
Modi presented the agenda in the second session of the G20 Summit on international trade, international financial and tax systems.