Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday addressed the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort in New Delhi on India’s 70th Independence Day. This was the third time that PM gave a speech from 17th century Mughal monument during his tenure. The speech was majorly focused on highlighting the achievements of his government so far.
However, PM Modi also touched upon certain topics or raised some issues which seemed to be aimed towards garnering popular support ahead of assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab in 2017. Apart from that, in an attempt to galvanise the patriotic fervour and sentiment which has been one of the deciding factors of his party since its inception, he also launched a scathing attack on Pakistan for “glorifying” terrorists.
Less than an hour into his speech, PM invoked the example of Sikh Gurus and hailed them for their sacrifices. “The country is celebrating 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh (10th Sikh Guru). How can this country forget the legacy and the sacrifices of the Sikh Gurus,” the PM said.
His mention of the Sikh Gurus and reminding people of his government’s plans to celebrate his 350th birth anniversary with grandeur can be seen as an attempt to woo the religious Punjabi voter in the state. The BJP and Akali Dal, who seem to be on the backfoot because of varied factors including Punjab’s drug problem and AAP’s rise in the state, is leaving no stone unturned to gain the confidence of Punjabi voters.
On the other hand, he also raised the problems faced by sugarcane farmers across the country. However, the PM specifically mentioned the problems of Uttar Pradesh sugarcane farmers as he said: “We see every year in newspapers from Uttar Pradesh reports about thousands of crores rupees of debt burden on sugarcane farmers.”
The PM said the central government had worked tirelessly to remove this burden and claimed that 99.5 percent of the debts were paid. However, social activist and Swarajya Abhiyan co-founder Yogendra Yadav immediately took to Twitter and said: “Just checked with Sugarcane farmers Union in Moradabad. More than 50% dues. Does PM know what he is talking about?”