Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on India’s 70th Independence Day was almost an account taking of his government’s performance in the past year, if not its entire tenure. It underlined everything from how processes were being streamlined to how price rise was being tackled.
If the Prime Minister chose to be a bit subtle in his choice of words on the Kashmir issue and Dalit unrest in parts of the country, it could have been because he was more than vocal on these topics over the past week or so.
The PM had recently, at a Town Hall organised by MyGov.in, spoken out harshly against cow vigilantes taking the law into their own hands, even calling them criminals much to the anger of certain sections of the Sangh Parivar.
Just a few days back, at an all-party meeting on the Kashmir unrest, Modi had told the attendees Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir is an integral part of Jammu and Kashmir and there “cannot be any compromise on national security”.
That he chose to skip these contentious issues in the Independence Day speech is understandable. It would have seemed harping on the same point without really taking the message ahead.
However, it was not as if he skirted the issues completely. He spoke about how social tensions were gripping the country and we need to look at the teachings of saints like Ramanuja — the 11th century Hindu theologian — who spoke about social equality. “An empowered India is not possible without an empowered society and an empowered society is based on social justice,” he said.
Dalits across the country have been protesting following the flogging of a Dalit family who were skinning a dead cow in Una district of Gujarat. With the situation going out of hand in Gujarat, the BJP chief minister Anandiben Patel put in her papers and was replaced by Vijay Rupani.
Highlighting how Indians had been deeply shocked by the attack at the school in Peshawar, the PM said violence has no place in our society. Hinting at the unrest in Kashmir, he said there were attempts being made to glorify terrorism. Taking a slightly aggressive stance, he also expressed solidarity with the people in Balochistan, a move that is likely to rile Pakistan.