True to expectations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation on the 72nd Independence Day from the ramparts of Red Fort in Delhi, the last before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, was a virtual launching pad for the vital election campaign. With Modi’s extraordinary oratorical skills, this was a golden opportunity to showcase the work of the government and no one could present the picture and excite the dreams of countrymen better than Modi.
Modi’s sincerity of purpose rings loud and clear which is why he is able to swing masses in elections. He knows the pulse of the people and comes off as an incorrigible optimist. He is undoubtedly assisted by the lack of a viable alternative to him both in the Opposition and in the ruling party.
Yet, the people are these days perennially impatient for quick results which the Modi government is not able to ensure in the context of the speed-breakers, the slothful attitude of people at large and the systemic handicaps.
Modi’s focus is the common man who is an incredible species with high expectations. The BJP has realised that it can get nowhere without the support of the farmers, the women, the working class and the vast numbers of services personnel. His promise of higher minimum support prices for various crops is designed to woo the disgruntled and estranged farmer.
The kingpin in Modi’s announcements was the launch of the Ayushman Bharat Health mission slated for September 25 and intended to provide proper access to good quality and affordable healthcare to the down-trodden, directed in a phased manner at 50 crore people or five crore families.
Also Read Opinion | Fringe or saffron; need to crush terror of all hues
Coupled with the already-functional Jan Dhan Yojana which has empowered millions of poor people with the government opening their bank accounts, the mass availability of gas connections and toilets in every home campaign which has made a difference to the lives of millions of people, the health mission holds promise of mass impact on their lives. These are ingredients for happier living for the poor.
The Ayushman Bharat mission aims to provide health insurance coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family per year, intended to benefit a whopping 8.03 crore people in rural areas and 2.33 crore in urban areas which makes it the largest-funded healthcare insurance programme across the world. This is a typical example of how Modi has a tendency to think big.
Another major target of Modi’s electoral attention was women to whom he devoted a fair part of his speech. He made it a point to stress that his government sought to re-define the divorce practices of Muslims to give fair treatment to their women but there were some roadblocks that came in the way. He assured them that succour for them would follow. This is an attempt to carve out a vote bank for the BJP among Muslim women considering that Muslims vote en masse for the Opposition.
Read More | Arresting the mortal sin of academic dishonesty
Modi also emphasised that the importance given to women in his regime is borne out by the fact that there are more women ministers in the Central cabinet than ever before and there are three women judges in the Supreme Court. He announced that women officers commissioned in short service will get opportunity for permanent commission like their male counterparts.
For the armed forces, Modi had a special praise and claimed that the One Rank One Pension scheme had been merely talked about by earlier regimes but actually implemented by his government.
Modi’s words of re-assurance for the honest tax-payer will go down well with the honest among the bureaucrats.
That he ignored the contribution to the country of the Nehru-Gandhi family from Jawaharlal Nehru to Indira Gandhi and beyond was typical of his stance. Instead, he singled out Gandhi ji and Ambedkar for praise in line with the present government’s standpoint.
Modi steered clear of Kashmir and Pakistan, except to hint that he is not for repression but a humane approach to the Kashmir imbroglio. Other than emphasising that India commanded respect in the comity of nations he did not dwell on the country’s foreign policy.