As India gears up to celebrate its 72nd Independence Day Tomorrow (August 15), all eyes will be on Prime Minister Narendra Modi who will address the nation from the historic Red Fort and hoist tricolour for the last time before 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Will the nation finally get the promised 15 lakh in the common man’s accounts? Will Modi announce the names of people holding black money that his government had brought back in the first 100 days of coming to power? Will he address the issues of public interest like unemployment and rapidly destroying law and order situation in the country? Or, will he do what he is best known for - selling dreams and walk away from real issues?
Well, it’s hard to predict what the prime minister will say in his final Independence Day speech, but one thing is sure that he has run out of “dreams” as nowadays he only repeats again and again what he has been saying since 2014. And probably this was the reason that forced him to crowdsource ideas for I-Day in his last Mann Ki Baat edition.
In his annual Independence Day speech in 2017, Modi broke his silence on mob violence and did include the issue in his I-Day speech.
He had said, “Sometimes in the name of faith, some people due to lack of patience end up destroying the social fabric,” adding that “the country is governed by peace, harmony and unity. The poison of casteism and communalism can never benefit the country.”
However, the prime minister never looked at the issue again and the law and order situation in the country continue to deteriorate further. The rise in the cases of lynching prompted the Supreme Court to direct Parliament to enact a law to root out “mobocracy” from our democracy.
So, it is likely the prime minister will once again speak on the issue of mob lynching and do some nice talks but won’t bother to act against his own cabinet ministers and party leaders who feel proud in posing with lynching accused.
Independence Day 2017 was also the year when Modi first started selling his “New India” dream. In his annual address from the ramparts of the Red Fort, Modi had said that
“If each one of us, irrespective of where he belongs to, strives with a new resolve, a new energy, a new strength, we can change the face of the country with our combined strength in the 76th year of our independence in 2022.”
“It will be the New India – a secure, prosperous and strong nation.”
However, the start of his “New India” lacked lustre and one of the senior Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor summed it up in one sentence. “Seems like cows are more secure than humans in some parts of our country.”
And it is highly unlikely that Modi will choose not to include the far from reality (at least as of now) “New India” dream in his 2018 I-Day address.
Going by the speculations, Modi may also announce the free health care scheme that was proposed in this year’s union budget. However, taxpayers who are, somewhere in their hearts, holding the hope that Modi will abolish personal income tax are once again likely to get nothing but disappointment.
The chances are also very high that the prime minister would blow his own trumpet in his last I-Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort and hail his government’s “failed” demonetisation move and malicious economic reform - the Good and Services Tax (GST). Modi will also hail the “tremendous economic growth” during his tenure but most likely avoid the issue of Rupee’s historic fall.
Going by his previous I-Day speeches, Modi may not dare to accept his government’s failure on many fronts, including job creation, increasing NPA of banks, PNB fraud but tap his shoulder for all the development works he promised but are still invisible.