On August 15, 2013, Narendra Modi “addressed the nation” from the Lallan College in Bhuj, Gujarat and gave an open dare to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on who would give the better speech. Modi dominated the media space that day, virtually relegating Manmohan Singh to the sidelines.
But all those are matters of the past. After the huge fervour generated by the BJP that came to power riding on the Modi wave, the going hasn't been that smooth for the government. The much expected budget stopped short of any big bang reform decision, evoking lukewarm reactions. Infiltration and inflation are both on the rise. No wonder then, that all eyes are on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's debut Independence Day speech from the Red Fort.
Modi is known for his oratorical flourish and will try to use it to the hilt on Independence Day. He is expected to speak without the aid of a teleprompter, although some bullet points will be there to assist him to string his extempore speech together. While inputs have been taken from all industries about the work done in the last two and half months, it is unlikely that Modi will unveil any broad policy decision. The focus will be primarily on highlighting the government's achievements so far in 16 major sectors and to give a broad indication of the road NDA wishes to chart in the next few months.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also expected to unveil an ambitious financial inclusion scheme on the Independence Day to provide bank accounts to 15 crore poor persons with an overdraft facility of Rs 5,000 and accident insurance of Rs 1 lakh. Apart from that, some specific decisions regarding improving infrastructure like smart cities and roads may be announced on the occasion. But in general, the focus will be on trying to implement the promises given in BJP's election manifesto.
Last Independence Day, Narendra Modi criticised Manmohan Singh for his soft line on Pakistan. This year, the focus will be on him, although Modi did refer to a proxy war waged by India's neighbour a few days ago. There will also be considerable interest to see if Modi refers to the problems of inflation, corruption and rising instances of communal violence in his speech.
Meanwhile, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry is pulling out all the stops to ensure that maximum number of people get to hear the speech. Tie ups have been made with private companies like YouTube for live streaming the speech in India and overseas. Also, 40 crore SMS highlighting the salient points of the speech will be sent right after it is finished. All in all, the government machinery is making sure that the event turns out to be a huge spectacle. A few months ago, while addressing BJP MPs in the Central Hall of Parliament, Modi had a dramatic meltdown and television channels played the visual on loop. The nation sure awaits expectantly to find out what the PM has in store for his maiden I-Day speech.