Have friends in opposition, Mamata didi sends me gifts: PM Narendra Modi

Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar with Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Source: Twitter/akshaykumar).

In a "candid and completely non-political" freewheeling chat with Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he counts the likes of Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee among his friends in the Opposition.

PM Modi also revealed that "Mamata didi" till this day gifts him kurtas every year. "Even today Mamata didi herself selects one-two kurtas for me. Even Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sends sweets to me three-four times in a year especially from Dhaka. When Mamata did got to know this, then she also sends sweets for me one or two times in a year," he in an interview telecast by ANI.

Amid a hectic Lok Sabha election campaign this year, PM Modi and Mamata have been exchanging barbs, with the former referring to the Bengal CM as "speedbreaker didi". Mamata has also been equally critical of the prime minister, describing him as "Hitler’s uncle" and "expiry babu".

PM Modi also said that his equation with a few Opposition leaders is different from what is perceived by the media. Recounting an incident before the time he became chief minister of Gujarat, PM Modi said: "There is this one incident which happened when I was not even Gujarat Chief Minister. I had gone to parliament for some work. I was talking to Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad in a jovial manner. Later, when we came outside, some mediapersons asked me, how come we are good friends, me being from RSS. Ghulam Nabi gave a good answer. We are connected like a family which you do not see on the outside."

The prime minister had also fielded questions from his image as a strict administrator to his sleep cycle. "This image of a strict administrator is wrong. I don’t pressurise people to work. Earlier the PM will leave the office by 6 pm and will also be away during the day. But I come early in the morning and leave late at night. So when they see I work so hard, they also feel like working. This is the kind of work culture I have developed. During work, I don’t pay attention to anything else but work. Discipline can’t be forced. I can only set an example," he said.

On his "close friend" and former US president Barack Obama expressing concern over his sleeping hours, PM Modi said: "Even Obama, who is now a close friend of mine, asks me, ‘Why do you sleep so less? This is your addiction to work but you should not sleep so less.’ This has now become my body cycle. I sleep for 3-3.5 hours and I sleep well," says Prime Minister Narendra Modi.