Addressing a public rally in Cuttack to mark four years of the NDA government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said his government had achieved more in 48 months than what all previous governments put together couldn’t since 1947.
In over an hour-long speech that the PM delivered with his usual panache, he presented a detailed report card of his government’s policies and programmes to stress it had delivered on its promise of
(development), ensured welfare of the poor and improved “ease of living” of the middle class. The PM said unlike the previous Congress-led UPA government, his government wasn’t about “confusion but commitment”. Also, this government had been able to provide a transparent administration, curbed black money and corruption, and worked towards
, without allowing “vote bank politics” to influence its decision making, he added.
The Congress is in desperation without the perks of office. From the dominant party of Indian politics, it is moving towards the “fringe”... Fringe organisations can never hope to come in power: Arun Jaitley
, Finance minister
Opposition's agenda is Modi hatao (remove Modi). BJP and Modi's agenda is avyavastha, bhrashtachar aur garibi hatao (remove disorder, corruption and poverty): Amit Shah, BJP chief
Foreign policy: F
Fuel prices: F
Job creation: F
Slogan creation: A+
Self promotion: A+
Remarks: Master communicator; struggles with complex issues; short attention span: Rahul Gandhi, Congress president
While the PM didn’t directly refer to the increasing fuel prices, he asked the people to “remember” that they were faced with galloping inflation in 2012-13, which his government has checked. He also referred frequently to the “dark days” of UPA-II. In a reference to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, the PM said janmat
(people’s mandate) guided his government and not instructions from “Janpath” (Gandhi’s official residence is located at 10, Janpath). Modi said he, unlike his predecessor, had provided strong leadership.
The PM delved at length on his government’s efforts at increasing farm incomes, contrasted his humble origins with that of the Nehru-Gandhi family and said he understood the struggle that the poor faced. Farmer organisations and political parties plan to mark one year of the Mandsaur police firing on June 6, and a crucial Lok Sabha by-election is scheduled on Monday in the agricultural belt of Uttar Pradesh’s Kairana. The PM also gave an indication of his party’s battle narrative for the upcoming elections, particularly the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The PM sought to project it as a battle between his commitment for the country versus a bunch of “corrupt and dynastic opposition leaders”.
But the PM also suggested that the results were a foregone conclusion. Modi said he was prepared to travel with the people of the country in the long journey that awaited them, and fulfil the dream of building a ‘new India’ by 2022 where everyone would have a house, and income of farmers would double.
In a reference to the recent show of opposition unity in Bengaluru, the PM said opposition leaders had come together to defeat him not because of their love for the country but to ensure the survival of their family and themselves. He said it was fear that had brought them together. Modi said it was unprecedented that as many as four former chief ministers were in jail on charges of corruption.
Earlier in the day, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah also sought to portray the 2019 battle as ‘Modi versus the rest’. Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Shah echoed former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s battle cry of the 1971 Lok Sabha elections.
“Opposition's agenda is Modi hatao (remove Modi). BJP and Modi's agenda is avyavastha, bhrashtachar aur garibi hatao (remove disorder, corruption and poverty),” Shah said. He also said Modi government’s promise of achhe din (better days) had been delivered to 220 million families who had benefitted from the flagship schemes.
Cuttack in Odisha was selected for the PM’s rally to celebrate four years of the Modi government because Shah believes the party will improve its performance in that state. BJP is also looking at its non-traditional areas like Odisha to compensate for any losses it might suffer in its strongholds in northern India.
In his speech, Modi also attacked Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal government in Odisha. Assembly elections in Odisha will be held along with the Lok Sabha elections. He said the BJP had won successive elections and had expanded to all corners of the country with governments in 20 states and 1,500 legislators.
Modi repeatedly asked the gathering to remember the “sorry state” of the country when his government took over in 2014. He claimed half the villages in the country didn’t have roads, and half the population didn’t have cooking gas connections and electricity in their homes. He said the reason for this was vote bank politics had guided previous Congress governments.
Modi said his government had ensured roads in 85 per cent of villages, and the rest would be covered in the next one year. Similarly, he said 80 per cent of the population now had access to toilets against 40 per cent four years back.
Modi said 130 million cooking gas connections were given out between 1947 and 2014, and his government in a short span of four years had provided 100 million connections.
The PM spoke of investments in infrastructure that his government has made, including making travelling by air accessible to the poor. He spoke of his government’s “successes” on the internal security front, where “naxals are on the run”.