New Delhi: Setting the stage for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday projected himself as an impatient agent of change, castigated the Congress-led UPA for its “governance failure” and promised housing, power, water, sanitation and healthcare for all in his mission to take the country to new heights.
He also announced that the ambitious Prime Minister’s Jan Aarogya Abhiyan, dubbed “Modicare”, providing health insurance coverage of Rs 5 lakh each to 10 crore families will be launched on September 25, on the 102nd birth anniversary of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, the founder of Jan Sangh, the BJP’s predecessor. In a strong election pitch, Modi reached out to Dalits, youth, farmers, tribals, women, fishermen, security forces, middle class and upper middle class by referring to the work done by his government and his endeavour to improve their lives.
In his last Independence Day speech at the Red Fort ahead of the next general elections, Modi said there was “senseless” criticism against him and asserted he was impatient and restless agent of change for eliminating poverty and bringing all-round development. Five crore people, he claimed, have been brought out of poverty in the last two years. The 80-minute address, however, avoided any reference to foreign policy issues, including Pakistan, or the controversies surrounding the recent incidents of lynching, the National Register of Citizens in Assam and the Rafale jet deal.
Breaking his silence in the context of rape and sexual exploitation in welfare homes in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, Modi said there was a need to attack such a mindset by putting the fear of the law that had been made stringent. He said law was supreme and no one could take it into their hands. Referring to Jammu and Kashmir, Modi repeated the lines from his last year’s August 15 speech that the Kashmir problem can be resolved only by embracing its people, not with bullets or abuses.
Reaffirming his mantra of “sabka saath, sabka vikas” (take everyone along, development for all), the PM said that there would be no discrimination against any section and there would be no nepotism and favouritism. “I want to reiterate my pledges – housing for all, power for all, clean cooking (gas) for all, water for all, sanitation for all, skills for all, insurance for all, connectivity for all. We want to go ahead with these programmes. Answering critics who question his emphasis on cleanliness and the efficacy of the campaign, Modi cited a WHO report, which said that the Swachh Bharat Mission had saved the lives of three lakh poor children. Modi turned poetic before winding up his long speech, saying that the country’s fortunes were being transformed.
ELEPHANT IS ON THE MOVE
Avoiding any major economic announcement, the Prime Minister highlighted his government’s achievements, citing GST as the centrepiece and the commendations from multilateral agencies on the reform measures. “India has registered its name as the sixth largest economy in the world. Before 2013, institutions and economists across the world used to refer to India as a risky economy, but today the same institutions and individuals are saying with confidence that reforms have given India a new momentum and strong fundamentals.
“They say the sleeping elephant has woken up and started walking. For the next three decades, India is going to guide and speed up the world economy.” He said while the country was earlier counted among the fragile five economies of the world “today India is considered a multi-trillion dollar destination for investment”.