The PM’s address made it plain that Mr Modi will go hell for leather in winning the next election.
Delivering his last Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort, Prime Minister Narendra Modi could have left no one in doubt that he wished desperately to return as the leader of the government after the next Lok Sabha election.
Mr Modi left no stone unturned in his speech, that was close to an hour and a half long, to persuade the people that he still had big dreams to fulfil for India, that he was “impatient” for change.
He made repeated references to not just the people in the greatest need but also the lower middle class, the middle class and the upper middle class, some of which he may have discerned are not as enamoured of his words as when he was the challenger in 2014.
The burden of his message was that he had taken positive steps for all categories. Separately, he sought to highlight the steps taken in his tenure for women too.
Much of the long peroration, in essence an appeal for endorsement in the next election, was devoted to practically every single scheme of his government, ambitious or mundane, even if many of these have left India baffled and several have performed well below par. The mantra at the Red Fort was enumeration of the record.
The social violence that has raised its head — through the action of lynch mobs, cow vigilante groups, and public violence that destroys third party property, including government assets, a subject to which the Supreme Court has lately devoted attention — was conspicuous by its absence in the PM’s address. But he did not fail to say, “The rule of law is supreme.” In 2014, Mr Modi had memorably spoken of a “moratorium on violence for 10 years”. This was effectively obscured this Independence Day.
Typically, the PM’s Independence Day address aims for loftiness, even if this is a formality, besides pointing to key gains made by the government and recording the ambitions and hopes of the country. In this regard, the PM’s speech stuck to day-to-day matters in the main. Also, as in a campaign speech, it took well-directed pot-shots at the Congress by claiming a superior record of government than the one that obtained in 2013 in the time of the Congress-led UPA. During his own tenure, Mr Modi said, the “sleeping elephant” was taking strides and the world had noted this, implying that life really began in 2014.
There was a major announcement — that India will send a manned space mission by 2022 latest, testimony to India’s front-ranking position in the world in the space sciences, which long pre-dates Mr Modi’s tenure. The PM also announced the launch of a national health insurance mission next month, about which the criticism has been that it is grossly under-funded. The PM’s address made it plain that Mr Modi will go hell for leather in winning the next election.