Cheer leaders of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Team India” clapped all the way during his Independence Day speech delivered from the historic rampart of the Red Fort. Just about eight kilometers away at Jantar Mantar hundreds of ex-jawans and retired army officers , fighting for one-rank-one –pension demand, nursed their wounds. A day after being manhandled, misbehaved and humiliated by the Delhi police, these ex-servicemen were once again let down by a nation that they had so proudly served for years.
Focusing on the unfulfilled expectation of the ex-servicemen does not mean trivializing the import of the 45-minute speech of a Prime minister who is a master of oratorical craftsmanship. But on his failure to deliver on a promise that has been so dear to the “nationalist’ leadership of the BJP, shows that an year ago the man who could even be expected to pluck even the moon and stars, was now face-to-face with the constraints of system that could not be wished away merely by rhetoric and high-sounding declarations. It also shows that the PM made eloquent declaration about fulfilling the expectations of ex-servicemen on October 23, 2014 without grasping the minefield he had walked into.
Was he not as infallible as one thought him to be?
The PM did display a laundry list of achievements of his 15-month-old government and made vague promises about changing the face of the nation without going into specifics. These were mainly related to the success of the scheme for opening up bank accounts for the poor, fabulous response to the insurance scheme launched by the central government last year, and 20 lakh people giving up gas subsidies. The PM also repeated how Rs.1,000 crores ($153.28 million) was raised through FM auctions, Rs.300,000 crores ($46 billion) from the coal auction. He did touch on efforts to bring back black money and huge numbers of corruption cases registered by the CBI in one year.
But those who tuned in their radios and TVs with the hope to hear some big bang promises , would be disappointed. Looking like 19th entry rule in his grand turban and designer dress, Modi did connect to the audience who whistled and clapped at his every dramatic pause. He did try to sway the nation with promise for a better tomorrow, but this time he did not made loud promises. In a speech that was tailor-made for wooing electorates in polls, Modi tried to sell dreams and hopes of a better tomorrow, banking on the collective will of the nation.
Ignoring that fact that the entire monsoon session of parliament was washed out over the demand for the resignation of his three senior party colleagues—External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje— over corruption cases, the PM asserted that no one has been able to raise a fingers on his government over corruption issues. At the same time, he rightly underscores the point that corruption was like a termite that would take years to be eliminated.
Amid criticism of the fringe outfit of the Sangh Parivar for trying to propagate an aggressive Hindutava that trampled on the right of the minorities, the Prime minister assured that there was no place for communalism and casteism in the country.
“Be it casteism or communalism there is no place for them. In no way can they be tolerated. If the unity of India is destroyed then the dreams of the people are also destroyed.”
– Prime Minister Narendra Modi
But the PM’s speech was silent on the key promises of the BJP to the nation over several decades: Building a grand temple at Ayodhya, scrapping Article 370 of the Constitution; and introducing a uniform civil code. All said and done, promises made and forgotten, the PM’s address to the nation seemed to underline the fact that Narendra Modi was coming to terms with the reality of a nation that is seeking to leave the legacy of the past behind and march ahead in the sunshine of a new freedom where the past has to be buried to make a new beginning. He completely ignored various issues which are crucial to the votaries of the Sangh Parivar and Hindutava lobbies. The million dollar question is whether the core constituency of the Pariwar is ready to accept such radical change of course.
The highlights of the PM’s I-Day speech:
- I salute our brave freedom fighters today
- This is the Team that makes the nation and takes our nation to new heights
- Be it casteism or communalism, there is no place for them. In no way can they be tolerated
- ‘Jan Bhagidari’ is the biggest asset of our democracy. “Be it MyGov, letters from citizens, Mann Ki Baat, communication with people…daily Jan Bhagidari is increasing”, the PM said.
- The poor want to move away from poverty and that is why, all our programmes must be for the poor- PM Modi
- Bank accounts are essential for integrating poor into the financial system, 17 crore people opened accounts under Jan Dhan Yojna.
- All our programmes and institutions should be helpful to the poor; have to empower them through financial inclusion.
- Last time from the Red Fort I spoke about toilets and cleanliness. People wondered what kind of PM is he, talking about these issues.
- If there is something that has touched every person, it is the movement towards cleanliness.
- Almost 4.25 lakh toilets were built in 2.62 lakh schools nationwide in one year; this gives self-confidence that we can do what we want.
- Who has given maximum strength to Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan? It is the children of India.
- We have been very successful in our campaign to make toilets, especially for girls in schools across India.
- We introduced Shrameva Jayate Yojana. It is an effort to chage the way we look at the workers of India.
- Dignity of labour has to be our national duty, it has to be a part of our nature.
- India can be free of corruption but we need lots of measures. We have to start from top.
- Some people like to remain in ‘Nirasha’. And they are not satisfied till they have spoken about it to other people.
- 20 lakh (2 million) Indians have given up LPG subsidy
- Coal block auction has been undertaken by the govt, national exchequer will get Rs 3 lakh crore.
- On the issue of black money, we took a lot of steps within such a short time. We formed a SIT under the SC’s guidance the day we took over.
- Some people are worried about tough law on black money. it has ensured that nobody dares to take black money out of the country.
- PM makes disclosure that Rs.6500 crores ($1 billion) disclosed under compliance window of black money and foreign assets law.
- CBI has registered 1800 corruption cases after we formed government.
1. The conversion rate used in this article is 1 US Dollar = 65.24 rupees
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