Ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Narendra Modi sharpens development pitch, outlines vision for 'New India'

The countdown for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections has well and truly begun: as is evident from the recent speeches of political leaders. On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the media — on a day when the last of five states voted to elect new representatives in their assemblies — and sought to highlight his government's achievements.

In his address at the national Hindi Daily Dainik Jagran’s 75th anniversary function, Modi said his focus was on development. Modi claimed his government made it possible for the last man standing to take a leap into the future, and towards rebuilding a ‘New India’.  Underlining his government’s mantra for development – ‘Vikas ki Panchdhara’ (five tenets of development) — the prime minister said his government mustered the "courage to take strong decisions".

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters

“For bringing further development and to achieve our goal of New India, we have to focus on education for children, income (employment) for youth, medicine (health) for elderly people, irrigation facility for farmers and redressal of public grievances,” he asserted, questioning why India "lagged behind" other countries for 67 years. He also wondered how India "made progress" in just four years. Modi said Indians have often wondered why smaller nations made progress while India remained "backwards".

Seemingly slamming the Congress party and its leadership, Modi added: “Big leaders were in power. People with big surnames, but the common man struggled for decades to resolve small issues. The problem wasn't a lack of goals, but the intent from political leadership was lacking. There was no dearth of resources, solutions and potential, but a lack of passion, sensitivity and work-culture. Despite having large swathes of agricultural land, hardworking youth and rich natural resources, people failed to have access to basic amenities.”

Modi, turning the spotlight on his government's flagship schemes, said a big change has been brought about these past few years by providing basic facilities such as cooking gas, electricity, rural roads, toilets, health, rail and air connectivity to the common man. He added that these schemes have been turned into a "mass movement."

Modi took a dig at former prime minister Indira Gandhi's 'Garibi Hatao' slogan (though he did not name her), saying if they had provided basic facilities to the people, they would not have created narratives for vote bank politics. Modi said the BJP government, to bring a big change, has been following the couplets of Saint Kabir, the 15th Century Indian mystic poet where he said: "What you mean to do tomorrow, do today."

“Before we came to power, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura had been missing from India’s rail map. Can you imagine?" Modi asked the audience. "In the past 70 years, several regions, including places within distance of dazzling Mumbai, had been living in darkness. We connected Meghalaya with rail and provided electricity to these places,” he added.

Modi said 95 percent of villages had now been declared open-defecation free, compared to just 38 percent in 2014. Modi said almost 90 percent of households now have cooking gas connection compared to just 55 percent four years ago, 95 percent of villages now have access to electricity compared to 70 percent earlier, and rural road connectivity went up from 55 percent to 90 percent.

“Refilling of cooking gas cylinders took days, but now it’s available within a day or two,” Modi said. “Getting a passport took months, but now it’s available within a fortnight or month. The same with Income Tax refunds, which has improved from months to weeks’. Only four crore people were paying income tax out of a population of 125 crore, but in the past four years, three crore people have been added.”

Modi said his vision for 'New India' is based on the concept of minimum government and maximum governance and ‘sabka saath, sabka vikaas’. The prime minister stated that his emphasis was on the youth: as per the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, who said the youth could bring change and rebuild a new India.

“We’re talking about a system where schemes can be developed and implemented on the basis of public participation,” Modi said. “We took this concept forward during our tenure. Today, youth consider themselves stakeholders in development and this trust can only be gained through deliverance and bringing transparency in governance.”

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Updated Date: Dec 07, 2018 20:26:03 IST

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