So, will the Prime Minister speak of the Lokayukta from Red Fort?

Will Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s fourth Independence Day speech be statesmanlike, businesslike or emotional ? Read what people want him to include in his address to the nation

PTI Photo by Shirish Shete
PTI Photo by Shirish Shete


From the ramparts of the Red Fort on Tuesday, will the Prime Minister speak on his Government’s plans about the Lokayukta Bill? Will he disclose the details of the secret agreement he has forged with NSCN (I-M), which allegedly commits co-sovereignty to the Nagas? Will he list the benefits of Demonetisation and claim he is winning the war against corruption?

Would he dwell on the economic crisis looming ahead or will he gloat about the GDP growth? Will he cry and claim, as he has done in the past, that his life is threatened by the rich and the corrupt? Will he announce radical rules to stifle dissent and enforce patriotism?

The suspense has been heightened by a massive exercise launched by the PMO to elicit people’s views on what they would like the Prime Minister to include in his address to the nation on Independence Day? Emails, text messages, appeal on his radio talk Mann Ki Baat have gone out to send suggestions to the PMO on the PM’s portal It remains to be seen how many of them do get included in the address.

Also, will the Prime Minister break convention and name citizens who contributed the ideas?

The reaction, however, has been mixed. Some critics wonder aloud whether the PM and the PMO are so bereft of ideas that they need to crowdsource even his independence-day address. Others believe he would have been better off seeking these ideas from chief ministers of various states or leaders of various political parties. Or perhaps he could have written to 100 prominent Indians in different fields and sought ideas from them?

NH asked a few people who are unlikely to have sent their suggestions, and whose suggestions are unlikely to be accepted by the PM, to know what their suggestions to the PM would be. Their response:

Shamsul Islam, political scientist and author: There must be some limit to his sophistry. Did he invite suggestions when he implemented anti-people policies? He has been doing whatever catches his fancy and now you want me to believe that he is serious about eliciting suggestions for his August 15 speech? Why, for God’s sake?

He announced demonetisation without any consultation. He rolled out GST without any feedback. He should say something on it. I would also like to know what has happened to the promise of creating 2 crore jobs in a year? He should not only boast of the achievements of his government but he should be answerable to the people of this country in a real sense.

I would like him to inform the nation in his speech that India has become number one in beef export. One should not forget that many Muslims were murdered in the name of the cow protection. He should dwell on this.

Jignesh Mevani, Dalit activist: My suggestions will be in the form of questions to him. I would like him to provide the answers in his independence-day speech.

Why are Dalits being killed in the name of cow protection? Is life of a Dalit less important than a cow?

Why has the Government of Gujarat passed a draconian law to protect cows, which holds that anyone found guilty of killing a cow would have to serve life imprisonment?

How many houses have been built by his Government for the homeless in the last three years?

Could he explain why terrorism continues despite Demonetisation ?

Subhasini Ali, President, All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA): Narendra Modi does not represent only the BJP or Hindus but he is the Prime Minister of each and every Indian. So, I would like him to acknowledge the plurality of this country. I would also expect him to announce complete loan waiver for farmers and a time-frame to implement the recommendation of MS Swaminathan Commission on agriculture.

I would like to him to announce that prices of LPG cylinders should be kept under control. He should announce that his government will not end the subsidy given to the poor.

Atrocities against women must be stopped. Being executive head of our country, he should ensure that all kinds of crime against women must be curbed and controlled. Everyone in this country be allowed to live as per his/her wish and the state should stop doing moral policing.

Kavita Krishnan, Polit Buro member of CPI (ML): I would suggest the PM to take Junaid’s name in his speech. Will he show the courage to take his name? I suggest PM should call upon citizens of this country to respect Muslims and other minorities and condemn mob violence against Muslims on any pretext.

He should commit to act against those who spread hatred in the country, I would ask him to include Com Zafar’s name in his speech and say from the Red Fort that there would be no further naming and shaming against the poor in the name of Swachcha Bharat Abhiyan.

I would expect him to speak on sanitation workers killed in drains in Delhi, Bengaluru and the other cities and tell the nation what steps his government will take to free the country of manual scavenging.

Ali Anwar, Member of Rajya Sabha: I would like him to speak on political morality, speak and behave like the Prime Minister of every Indian and not PM of a section or community. I would also like him to explain why he believes that any kind of opposition must be destroyed. Let him speak on people who have lost their livelihood following demonetisation and plight of farmers. I am also hoping he would speak on Gau goons.

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