He came, he spoke and made some promises. But this time, the nation wondered what was the need of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s June 30 speech? Neither did he speak on China, nor about effective strategies to curb the rising cases of Covid-19. To a major extent, it was a let down for the nation.
For experts, the lack of depth in Modi’s speech is an indication that the government does not have a clear roadmap for the way ahead, neither for the China issue nor the Covid-19 crisis. The Centre is just responding to how the situation unfolds in both cases.
Here’s what Modi’s latest speech lacked and why did it dampen people’s spirit
1. There was no hard-hitting reply to China
It was not the case that Modi simply missed the China issue. He didn’t utter a word on what the ground situation is in eastern Ladakh. Also, he didn’t give a befitting reply to Beijing. When the Opposition is criticizing the Centre over “failing” to handle the border stand-off, Modi chose to remain silent on that front. Twenty Indian soldiers, including a Colonel, died in the Galwan valley face-off in Ladakh but the Prime Minister didn’t speak anything on the issue in his latest speech. Does it mean that the Centre lacks a proper plan to handle the crisis? Well, sometimes silence speaks in volumes.
The netizens aren’t however shy of posting multiple old videos where Modi and his party colleagues are seen lambasting the Manmohan Singh-led government for “poor” handling of the LAC situation with China. The announcement of ban on 59 Chinese apps and Modi’s speech happened almost within few hours of interval. Naturally, people expected their PM to clear air on the entire issue and most importantly declare India’s stand on Chinese intrusion. But surprisingly, our PM spoke more like he does at an election campaign.
2. Modi highlighted only Hindu festivals
Now this is an interesting part of the PM’s speech. He listed out all Hindu festivals to take place in the coming months but didn’t mention about Eid-al-Adha, Moharram or Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary. He said how the government welfare plans will cater to people during the time of those festivals. Was it just an innocent mistake or a conscious choice? Does it mean that the Centre’s welfare plans won’t cover the people of other religious backgrounds? Whatever it is, it didn’t give a good show for a population with varied religious backgrounds.
3. What does the free food grains plan actually reveal?
The Centre allowed the free food grains scheme facility till November end. So beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act will get free wheat and pulses till that time. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the scheme in March end for five months. Little did the Centre know that time that the economy will not survive as per their expectation from Unlock 1. Modi’s latest speech reflected the idea that the Centre has given in to the crisis. People were more interested in learning about the government’s foolproof plan to revive the economy and job creation. But Modi spoke about doles and alms.
4. Nothing on handling the Covid-19 crisis strategically
The PM spent quite a bit of his speech time in charting out what welfare measures have the Centre taken so far during the Covid-19 crisis. Modi highlighted the “positive” sides of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana and how Rs 18,000 crore was deposited in the bank accounts of 9 crore farmers.
Now this monetary help to farmers was essential even if Covid-19 never happened. India’s economy was struggling even before the pandemic’s outbreak. But the Centre hardly took any measure to improve the situation. It only sprung into action after the worldwide pathogen attack.
On the other hand, Modi laid sole emphasis on India’s low mortality rate. It remained totally oblivious of the rising 18,000 or 20,000 daily spike in infections. The PM didn’t speak of any strategy or plan by his government to curb the virus’s spread. Common people are clueless about whether their elected government is equipped to combat the Covid-19 crisis.
5. Much ado about nothing?
A day before the speech, BJP top leaders and party members started creating much hype about it, as they always do. But the “show” flopped due to the very content of the speech at a crucial juncture. Modi’s silence on the burning China issue, Covid-19 crisis and going ga-ga over the government’s welfare plans and schemes has raised some valid questions. As the Opposition Congress rightly says, the PM only cares about the upcoming Bihar elections. It also alleged that Modi was steering his speech from the serious situation of the China border.
तू इधर उधर की न बात कर,
ये बता कि क़ाफ़िला कैसे लुटा,
मुझे रहज़नों से गिला तो है,
पर तेरी रहबरी का सवाल है।
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) June 30, 2020
‘We had hoped that he would look China in the eye, name it and gather the courage for some tough talk. But he shied away and pretended as if there was nothing wrong at our borders.” Supriya Shrinate, AICC spokesperson, told TOI