Speculations are being made on the kind of speech Prime Minister Narendra Modi will make from atop the Red Fort on the 72nd Independence Day on Wednesday.
It may be a political one as it will be Modi’s last address to the nation from the ramparts of the majestic Mughal-era monument before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Or, the PM may be his usual self.
Whatever. But Narendra Modi as PM has certainly brought about noticeable changes in the manner that a few of his predecessors including Manmohan Singh had made Independence Day speeches.
These are some of the departures from tradition that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has brought about in the manner in which Independence Day speeches have been made:
Enclosure at Red Fort was introduced after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984. The bullet-proof enclosure became more and more sophisticated by the time Manmohan Singh was the PM. A 360-degree protective shield was designed for him.
However, Narendra Modi rejected the enclosure perhaps to have a direct connect with the audience. He has never used it in the four years that he has addressed the nation despite terror alerts and threats.
This conveys the meaning that the country is in safe hands and the law and order situation is sound.
For all the ten years that Manmohan Singh was the prime minister, he spoke from written speeches. However, Narendra Modi has never used either written speeches or tele-prompters.
Modi’s speeches are spontaneous and extempore.
The prime ministers before Narendra Modi had focussed on making announcements about schemes and policies. They usually did not give any account of the progress made by such schemes.
However, while introducing new schemes, Modi did two things. He announced a timeframe for such schemes and also presented the report cards of those announced in the previous year or years.
For instance, he announced in 2015 from Red Fort his government’s accomplishments like building more than 4.25 lakh separate toilets for girls and boys in 2.65 lakh schools, opening bank accounts of 17 crore people under the Jan Dhan Yojana and launching Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
PM Modi also gave timeframes for the schemes his governments launched. As an example, in the 2015 Independence Day speech, he promised a 1,000-day deadline for electrifying all villages in the country.
The Modi government claimed that it had achieved that milestone on April 28, much before the 2019 deadline.
The prime ministers before Modi followed the set protocol. However, Modi has diverted from it on all occasions.
After his address, Modi mingles with the children who are part of the drill. On one such occasion in 2015, he got pushed by the swarm of excited children who wanted to come closer to him.
However, the PM’s personal bodyguards took over and controlled the situation.
Almost all the PMs, including Manmohan Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee have taken the lift to reach the podium for unfurling the National Flag. However, PM Modi briskly walks up the steps covered with red carpet. Sign of an agile and healthy PM.
According to convention, the National Anthem is sung between the PM unfurling the National Flag and making his Independence Day speech. After her/his speech got over, the event would come to an end.
However, with Modi at the helm, the National Anthem is played a second time after his speech gets over.
This is one area which PM Modi himself said would improve upon. While the speeches of his predecessors have generally been short, not exceeding 50 minutes, those of Modi have always lasted more than this.
In ten years, Manmohan Singh’s Independence Day speeches lasted between 32 and 45 minutes. Only in 2005 and 2006, he spoke for 50 minutes.
Manmohan Singh’s predecessor Atal Bihari Vajpayee spoke for 25 to 30 minutes.
In contrast to Singh and Vajpayee, Modi’s speeches are quite lengthy.
In 2014, Modi’s Independence Day speech lasted 65 minutes, in 2015 it was for 86 minutes and when in 2016 it touched 94 minutes, Modi himself disclosed that he had received a few complaints about the long duration of his speech. He promised to cut it short next year.
It would be interesting to see how long does he speak on Wednesday.
The long and short of this story is that though Narendra Modi’s speeches may have been longer than his immediate two predecessors, he has brought about several changes, perhaps for better, regarding the Independence Day address of the PM.
Source: India Today