New Delhi : In a virtual election speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday projected himself as an impatient agent of change against the backdrop of “docile and inefficient” governance during the Congress-led UPA rule 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 (PMJAA), dubbed “Modicare”, for 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 Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the BJP’s predecessor.
Making his last Independence Day address to the nation ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Modi said there was “senseless” criticism against him but asserted he was impatient and restless to take the country ahead of many others which had overtaken India.
And breaking his silence in the context of recent cases 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. He recalled former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s line `Kashmiriyat, Jamhooriyat, Insaniyat’ (eclectic Kahmiri culture, democracy and humaneness) and said this was the only way forward.
Reaffirming his mantra of “sabka saath, sabka vikas” (take everyone along, development for all), the Prime Minister said 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, 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.
“People make senseless criticism against me. But whatever may be said, I want to publicly acknowledge that I am restless because several countries have marched ahead and I want to take the country ahead of them. I am impatient because children are still suffering from malnutrition. I am eager to provide quality of life and ease of living to country men. I am impatient to provide health cover to each of the poor so that they can fight against diseases. I am eager because we have to lead knowledge-based fourth industrial revolution,” he said.
Modi turned poetic before winding up his nearly 80-minute speech, saying that the country’s fortunes were being transformed.
“We have to make a new dawn and create a new India. We want to move ahead with the dream of reaching the crescendo of development.”
Attacking the Congress but not by name, he said if comparison was made of the speed of governance in the last four years, people would be surprised.
“If toilets were built at the speed of 2013, several decades would have gone to reach the present stage. Rural electrification would have taken two decades. Taking LPG connection to poor women would have taken 100 years. Generations would have gone to take optical fibre to its present levels. There are a lot of expectations, a lot of needs. The country is feeling a change in the last four years. There is new awareness, new enthusiasm.”
He said four times more rural houses had been built, there was a record number of mobile manufacturers, record number of aeroplanes had been procured and record number of tractors sold.
“The demand for higher MSP (minimum support price) for farmers was pending for years. From farmers to political parties to agriculture experts, everybody was asking about it but nothing happened. The decision was taken by our government to provide the MSP of 1.5 times of production cost.”
Modi said the Army, which reaches out to people in case of natural calamities, also conducts surgical strikes to give a befitting replies to its enemies, an apparent reference to the surgical strike conducted on terror launch pads across Line of Control in 2016.
In a strong election pitch, Modi reached out to Dalits, poor, youth, farmers, 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.
Modi also attacked the opposition over the non-passage of triple talaq bill in the just-concluded monsoon session of Parliament and promised to do justice to Muslim women by getting it passed early.
Alleging that the previous governments had allowed a climate of corruption to thrive, the Prime Minister said his government had eliminated power brokers from Delhi and plugged loopholes in various schemes like Public Distribution System that had led to savings of Rs 90,000 crore. “The corrupt will not be forgiven.”
The measures initiated by the government had also led to near doubling of direct tax assesses from nearly four crore to 6.75 crore and indirect tax assesses from 75 lakh to 1.16 crore on account of introduction of GST apart from barring over three lakh suspicious companies in the anti-black money drive.
He announced that India would launch a manned mission in space by 2022 — it could be a man or woman — and a satellite dedicated to help fishermen.
The Prime Minister said India was earlier seen among the fragile five nations because of policy paralysis but now it had turned itself into a “land of reform, perform and transform”.
“We are all set for record economic growth. India’s voice is being heard effectively at the world stage. We are integral parts of forums whose doors were earlier closed for us.”