Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his customary Independence Day address, today asserted that the frenzy of communalism or the poison of casteism have no place in India but did not announce any major scheme unlike last time as he answered criticism on fighting corruption.
In a 85-minute speech from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort, he referred to the major issue facing his government — ‘One-Rank, One-Pension’ (OROP) — on which he said the government has accepted in principle. But he stopped short of announcing acceptance of the demand of ex-servicemen who are agitating for over last two months.
Wearing a printed orange-coloured turban and delivering probably the longest Independence Day speech by a Prime Minister, Modi avoided any reference to the disruption in Parliament over which President Pranab Mukherjee yesterday expressed concern.
He mentioned the announcements made during his first Independence Day address last year like Swachh Bharat and Jandhan schemes and said many of them had been implemented in a time-bound manner like building of toilets.
The government programmes are focussed on welfare of the poor and other under privileged sections while ensuring reduction in inflation and efforts to boost growth to double digit, he said.
While talking about efforts for development, Modi made a strong pitch for communal harmony and peace. “The world keeps signing praise about India’s diversity and greatness. Like diversity, the country also has simplicity and unity, which are our capital. These have been nurtured over the centuries. This capital has to be preserved,” he said.
“Be it the poison of casteism or the frenzy of communalism, these have no place in the country and should not be allowed to grow. These ills have to be eradicated through the nectar of development,” he said.
He said if the unity of India is destroyed, then the “dreams” of the people will also be shattered as the country looking forward to development and progress.
Modi, in his second Independence Day address, focussed largely on the issue of corruption and asserted that the steps taken by his government over the last 15 months to deal with this “termite” had started yielding results.
Responding to opposition criticism that nothing is happening on dealing with the problem of black money, he said “some people love to spread pessimism” as he informed that about Rs 6500 cr of undeclared money has been disclosed during the compliance window provided by the government.
Asserting that there is no allegation of even one paisa corruption against his 15-month-old government, he pledged to free the country from this malaise “braving all kinds of attacks” and ridiculed those questioning this endeavour.