Prime Minister Narendra Mod’s takedown of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha, while participating in motion of thanks to President’s address to Parliament, would have enthused his party cadres at par with the effect of Priyanka Gandhi’s entry into politics would have had on Congressmen. While the speech had over a dozen news points, from Rafale to Mahagathbandhan – the grand opposition alliance Modi called Mahamilavat – the common theme of the 100 minutes long address was his ownership of his five years at the helm as he seeks a fresh mandate in May. The BJP campaign could not have expected a clearer pitch to canvass the achievements of the Modi government.
Underscoring the speed, scale, integrity, and intent philosophy of his government, Modi blasted the opposition for running a campaign that did not mind maligning nation’s achievements in last four years, so that they could bring him down. Possibly responding to the “batting on front foot” stance of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, the PM said he was made of the stuff that would “challenge the challenges.”
“If I write a letter to beneficiaries of Ayushman Bharat, it is my personal commitment that it would deliver,” Modi said responding to opposition's attack that the healthcare scheme was turning into a propaganda tool for PM’s projection. “The LED project has led to savings of Rs 50,000 crores in terms of power bills. Is it not equal to a Rs 50,000 crores package for the middle classes?” he asked in another instance.
He threw a challenge to the opposition to punch holes in the data in terms of schemes that have delivered from Digital India to 100% electrification to direct benefits transfer (DBT). “Why the same were not achieved under an economist PM,” he said, taking a jibe at Manmohan Singh, as many of these programmes have found mention in Congress manifestos at least since 2004, if not earlier.
With his government under repeated attack on demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Modi fully backed the two projects. If demonetisation led to shutting down of over 3 lakh shell companies, GST was a project that Congress wanted to implement since early 1990s, and all decisions in the GST Council had Congress ministers in attendance and endorsing. “Opposition attacked President’s address as being same as mine. Is it not proof that we speak in one voice and have nothing to hide,” the PM said.
But more than numbers, the Lok Sabha speech of Modi was a template for his party cadres to build the campaign on. If optics are substantial part of politics, then of late the Prime Minister was coming out as trudging a lonely furrow, what with the exception of Amit Shah, entire top leadership of the BJP and the extended RSS family either missing in action or pulling in different directions. With this speech, Modi has exhorted them to own up the good governance plank of the party that brought them to power in 2014.
What was left unsaid or out of the speech had an equally important message for the political pundits. Ram temple, Sabarimala or Triple talaq did not find their way into the speech, clearly indicating the Prime Minister’s mind is focused on 5-years of his governance as the template for his 2019 campaign.
Watch the Prime Minister's full speech in Parliament here.