BJP leaders note changes in Modi's speech

BJP leaders note changes in Modi's speech

A comparison of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Independence Day speech this year with last year's address shows he has sought to switch to governance issues from making exciting announcements that may not be easy to deliver soon, BJP leaders have said.

Modi began this year's speech by talking about last year’s address: “I put forward some ideas (last year). I was new, I spoke about what I saw and felt.”

His focus seemed more on fulfilment and implementation of promises and schemes already announced, said some ruling-party leaders.

Essentially, the party leaders said, Modi sought to convey the things he could not say in Parliament's just-concluded monsoon session due to the logjam over “Lalitgate” and the Vyapam scam, as well as his decision to stay away from the disruptions and adjournments over 17 sittings.

Last year, Modi had made big-ticket announcements like the Jan Dhan Yojana, renaming the Planning Commission, the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, the Swachh Bharat and Swachh Vidyalaya missions, Make in India, Skill India and Digital India. This time, he candidly admitted to the absence of a solution for the One Rank One Pension (OROP) issue despite he being in power.

In a bid to be seen as less corporate-friendly — a common accusation by the Opposition — Modi emphasised on his government's concern for the poor, chiefly their financial inclusion, social security, and employment.  He also dwelt at length on the crackdown on black money and transparency in coal mine, airwave and FM auctions. BJP leaders said he was keen to change the government's anti-farmer and anti-tribal image following the land acquisition bill row.

In a bid to answer critics, even within the Sangh Parivar, of labour reforms, Modi also called for making dignity of labour a part of the national character.

His announcement of spending Rs 6,000 crore annually on development in mineral-rich tribal areas, in particular, was to counter criticism over liberalisation of mining and land acquisition in backward regions.

A major change in his address, a senior minister noted, was constant reference to India's 125 crore population as “Team India” rather than “we” and “us”. The repeated assertion was meant to convey that India was on the right track and the government was working.

Like last year's speech, when he had called for moratorium on divisive issues, Modi again attacked casteism and communalism, the latter being a pointer to the Hindutva Parivar, whose public statements have caused insecurity among minorities. Modi also spoke about corruption, claiming there had been no allegation against his government over the past 15 months. He could not have made any reference to the row involving External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and the chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, whom he had praised in a recent poll rally in Bihar.

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