I-Day speech: Modi blows poll bugle from Red Fort

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort on the occasion of 72nd Independence Day, in New Delhi on Wednesday. (PTI Photo)

Delivering his last Independence Day address of his first term as prime minister, Narendra Modi on Wednesday sought to project the “change” that the government led by him brought in different spheres in the last more than four years and counterpointed it with the alleged “policy paralysis” of the last two UPA regimes.
 
As the country braces for the next general elections in 2019, Modi also sought to give a message, though subtly, that he is here to stay even for the next term.

 

 

Taking the nationalism pitch further, Modi said that an Indian with the tricolour will go to space in a 'gaganyaan' in 2022 when India completes 75 years of its Independence, making it the fourth nation in the world to have sent a manned flight into space. 

He also talked of his government’s plans for the 150th birth anniversary of  Mahatma Gandhi that falls on October 2, 2019, months after the next general elections will be over, to hammer home the point that he is confident of a second term in government.
 
Modi listed out the achievements of his government in education, health, women's rights and farming sector, and stressed: “the nation is feeling a new change for the last four years”.
 
Seeking to contrast the “pace” of development in various fields during his regime, he set a baseline of 2013, the last year of the UPA government.

“That we are moving forward and where we have reached does not become very clear until we take into account the point from where we started. If we take the pace of 2013 as the baseline and then examine the work that has been after that, it can be understood how much work has been done. How much change has come to the nation. Government machinery and offices are the same, the files and those deciding over it are the same, but the country is experiencing a new change in the last four years and is moving forward with a new enthusiasm” he said.

“Had we continued to work with the pace of 2013, it would have taken generations to lay optical fibre throughout the country for better connectivity, even 100 years would have been less for providing smoke-free LPG ovens to women and taking electricity to all villages. Many more decades would have taken to achieve 100% sanitation," said Modi. 

Recalling that the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 when the BJP led by him got a massive mandate, Modi said, “In 2014, people did not stop at just forming a government. They had joined together for nation building and will continue to do so.”

The farmers, economy and Kashmir
 
Training guns on the previous Congress-led regimes for pursuing "unclear goals" ('dhulmul lakshya'), Modi said that discussions went on over Minimum Support Price for farmers for years but the decision to give 1.5 times the price of the cost of crops was taken by his government and so was the case with GST.
 
The prime minister said that before 2014, the world used to say that India’s economy is full of risks but the same world now says India’s economic fundamentals are strong. 
 
“What a change has come now. Before 2014, the world was of the view that India means policy paralysis and considered India as a fragile link in the world’s economy. They used to discuss the bottlenecks here. The same world is now saying that the sleeping giant has now moved on. Now India is seen as one which will give momentum to the growth of the world economy.  Such a trust has been built for India,” Modi said, crediting his government for bringing about this change in the world’s outlook towards India.
 
Amid criticism from some quarters about the alleged "muscular" policy of his government towards Kashmir, Modi invoked the famous “Jamhooriyat, Insaaniyat and Kashmiriyat” line of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and said that the latter had shown the “right path” and his government wants to pursue that. “We want to move forward on the path of embracing the Kashmiris, not on the path of bullets ('gaali aur goli ke raaste par nahin, gale laga kar').
 
The prime minister made no reference to the recent incidents of mob lynching in the name of ‘gauraksha’ or otherwise but chose to stress that the "rule of law is supreme” for his government and “there cannot be any compromise on it. No one can be allowed to take the law into his/her own hands". Modi also cited the death penalty handed out to rapists in record five days of hearing in the BJP-ruled states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. 

Reiterating his government’s commitment towards women empowerment, he also announced the formation of a permanent commission for recruitment of women officers in the armed forces. 

Women officers commissioned in short service will get an opportunity for the permanent commission like their male counterparts. This is my gift to the women of this country from the Red Fort today - Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Modi also claimed that his Cabinet has maximum women representation since independence and also highlighted as to how for the first time there are three women judges in the Supreme Court.
 
On farmers' issues, he said that while some doubt his promise of doubling their income by 2022, his government is committed to achieving that. A highlight of his speech was the launch of 'Prime Minister Jan Arogya Abhiyan', also called 'Ayushman Bharat', from September 25, the birth anniversary of RSS ideologue Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay. Under the programme, an insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh will be extended to 50 crore people.
 
The prime minister also spoke on the surgical strike carried out by his government against Pakistan in 2016 in the wake of Uri terror attack in Jammu & Kashmir. Modi also trained guns on the Opposition Congress without naming it for non-passage of the bill on 'triple talaq' in  Parliament during the Monsoon Session.

Amid indications that the government can bring out an ordinance on the issue, the prime minister said his government is “committed to doing all that is possible” to protect the rights of Muslim women and will definitely meet their aspirations.
 
“Power brokers are not seen in power corridors now,” the prime minister said, highlighting his government’s fight against graft and black money that forced the closure of 3 lakh shell companies. He talked of how his government plugged leakages in the schemes meant for the poor, widened the tax net in both direct and indirect taxes. 

Coming to the Northeast, which is a priority area for the BJP and his government, Modi spoke about how Tripura and Meghalaya are free from the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). The people were up in arms against AFSPA in those states.
 
The prime minister concluded his speech with a poem invoking the new era ('navyug') and a called for housing, power, water, sanitation, skill, health, insurance and connectivity for all.

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I-Day speech: Modi blows poll bugle from Red Fort

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