'Mann Ki Baat' 2.0: Devoid of rival bashing, Narendra Modi connects with grassroots, praises non-BJP states for steps to conserve water

In his first address to the nation through ‘Mann Ki Baat’ after the beginning of his second term in office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proved yet again why he was voted to power with a resounding majority. The reason is his inimitable direct link with the last man standing, who feels connected to the topmost authority of the country through the radio address.

 Mann Ki Baat 2.0: Devoid of rival bashing, Narendra Modi connects with grassroots, praises non-BJP states for steps to conserve water

Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha on Tuesday. Screengrab from Lok Sabha TV

Modi, who is visibly more relaxed and confident after the 2019 election than he was in his first term — as is evident from his demeanour within and outside the Parliament on a variety of platforms — reached out to the masses on Sunday with his first address on the radio after a gap of four months. Like a seasoned statesman, he refrained from assaulting any of his opponents. He struck where it matters, by picking up a range of basic issues that concern the daily existence of the common Indian, not just in cities and towns but in far-flung villages as well.

In the first episode of 'Mann Ki Baat' 2.0, he picked up the threads he had left before the nation got consumed in the General Election.

The address was full of strings and symbolism whose impact would not be lost on those for whom the State continues to be the biggest provider of jobs, security and prospects of growth. He quoted a few lines from renowned Hindi writer Munshi Premchand’s well-known stories like Nashaa, Eidgah and Poos ki Raat to impress upon the audience what these literary creations teach humanity.

Citing the story Nashaa that deals with the scourge of economic disparity plaguing the society, he said, “If you are not careful enough, you will never know when the bane of bad company engulfs you.”

Premchand’s stories featuring Muslim characters are, perhaps, one of the biggest examples of the syncretic culture of India, and by quoting Eidgah, Modi seemed to be reaffirming his intent of ‘Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’ (Development for all, Trust of all) including the Muslims, a big section of whom continues to feel alienated with the rise of the BJP.

“This story touched the core of my heart – the sensitivity of a young lad—four or five-year-old Hamid, his unsullied love for his grandmother, such maturity at that early age! It stirs human emotions to their supreme pinnacle,” said Modi.

Earlier, the prime minister in his thanks-giving address in the Upper House of the Parliament had underlined his government’s intent of rebuilding ‘New India’ – about which he had spoken in the past as well. Today, without reminding his audience about New India, he delved on issues like saving water, use of libraries to enhance knowledge, cleanliness (swachhata), yoga for health, etc – the essential components of having a healthy and prosperous nation.

Giving a clarion call for a mass movement, Modi emphasised on the restoration of traditional methods of water conservation, suggesting methods like rainwater harvesting. He also focussed upon the collective efforts of citizens, NGOs, social activists, villagers, etc. for awareness building.

One of the biggest strengths of the BJP in winning Lok Sabha elections with a majority – both in 2014 and 2019 had been its grassroots connectivity. 'Mann ki Baat' is a perfect elucidation of this connectivity.

The programme, launched by Modi during his first term as prime minister, redefined the age-old “address to the nation” speech handed out by various heads of state to their subjects but that remain largely dry and tedious. He addressed the nation but connected with them far more informally than a head of state would generally do.

Moreover, 'Mann ki Baat' is not just a one-way programme. Through this outreach, Modi connects with his audience on day-to-day issues. It has been developed as an interactive programme like those on the radio in years gone by – such as the Vividh Bharti, where the letters of the listeners giving suggestions from far-fetched towns and villages were discussed and their names were announced.

Today Modi did the same. He named the sarpanch of Lupung Panchayat of Katakmasandi block in Hazaribagh district in Jharkhand. A recorded message of the sarpanch was played. This undoubtedly would inspire millions of villagers across the country to connect with the prime minister.

Modi appealed his dedicated listeners to include book reading in their daily life and post suggestions on his Narendra Modi App.

“No bouquet, just a book! I had urged all to choose books over flowers in welcome or felicitation ceremonies,” he reiterated.

Here again, Modi cited live examples like Akshara Library in a village within the dense forests of Idukki in Kerala. He named PK Muralidharan, a primary school teacher and PV Chinnathampi, a small tea shop owner, who have worked tirelessly for this library. He talked about the ‘Vaanche Gujarat campaign’ — an initiative to encourage book reading.

Giving a sign of the inclusive approach of governance that he has adopted in the second term, Modi appreciated the efforts made by the non-BJP ruled states like Punjab, Telangana, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu in getting rid of the waterlogging problem, construction of small ponds, revival of river Nag and rainwater harvesting initiatives.

Updated Date: Jul 01, 2019 16:43:11 IST