Narendra Modi’s clarion call for changing image of India from scam country to skill country was the high point of his first speech in Parliament. Prime Minister was replying to the debate on motion of thanks to the President’s speech which had outlined vision for next 60 months. All this in a day when opposition tried to corner the government asking for resignation of VK Singh for issuing controversial statements against Army chief designate Dalbir Singh Suhag.
Modi’s maiden speech:
Modi took turns today to speak in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Consistent with his speeches post 16th May, Modi displayed statesman like demeanor. He reached out to his opponents and assured the states that their voices will be heard in his mantra for ‘cooperative federalism’. Opposition Congress alleged that his speech was high on promises but low on specifics. Experts thought Modi may outline his priority about any particular sector or may promise to pass any key legislation in the first 100 days. But no such announcement was made today.
Modi’s speech was primarily about developing India with bipartisan support. Showing rare candour he asked MPs to work for the nation for the first 4 years and to do “politics” in the last year. This many believe is a cue for possible harsh economic decisions the government may push through to bring in economic reforms 2.0. But even if that happens, rest assured it will be sugar coated with sops for the lesser privileged as Modi proclaimed his government is primarily for the poor of this country.
While Modi repeatedly harped on Gujarat model to win elections, in reality he knows that there can’t be any uniform model of development. Thus he spoke about reaching out to specific needs of diverse sections of Indians living in different regions. He pointedly mentioned about the shambolic condition of Muslims in general and sought to reach out to them. Even detractors like Mamata Banerjee, Jayalalithaa and Mulayam Singh was praised by the Prime Minister. Modi said that since he was a Chief Minister he knows the problems states face and assured that Centre will not act as a “big brother” to enforce decisions. He hoped that states will engage in healthy competition.
In the broad blueprint PM presented it is evident that Modi Sarkar will try to use technology as a tool for empowerment in education and agriculture. To utilize the demographic dividend India possesses Modi stressed on skill development of the youth. Till now India has been known to export IT professionals to the world. PM wants to increase that ambit so that Indian teachers, doctors become much sought after in the world, an indicator that there will be heavy focus on education.He also spoke about a clean India and as a part of it took an ambitious pledge of providing housing and basic amenities to all Indians by 2022.
In Gujarat he repeatedly spoke about “Gujarati asmita” to unite the people. He slightly altered the message saying if the nation can unite during cricket matches then why not always for each other. For the first time after becoming PM he spoke out in the issue of increasing violence against women. He urged politicians to abhor playing petty politics and to ensure that women are given security and respect.
He answered the Mahabharata reference by Mallikarjun Kharge saying that those days are long gone but people still root for Pandavas to win. Finally Modi urged his colleagues to show humility and not to get carried away by the mandate.
Although Modi adopted a broadly conciliatory tone in his speech some of his ardent critics stuck to their guns in the parliament. MIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi raised the issue of Gujarat riot and death of Isharat Jahan again amidst protest by BJP MPs. Harvard Professor Sugato Bose of TMC referred to the murder of the Pune techie. Sushma Swaraj said that all parties should try to ensure that Women Reservation Bill is passed in the Parliament.
Today both inside and outside Parliament the issue of tussle between Ministry of Defence and General VK Singh gathered political steam. It gave the opposition an issue to corner Modi sarkar. VK Singh while he was Army Chief had put spanner on promotion of Dalbir Suhag citing a botched operation. Ministry of Defence in an affidavit to the Supreme Court had deemed his decision illegal. This lead to an angry rebuttal from current Union Minister VK Singh on Twitter and raised question mark over whether Suhag will indeed take charge as Army Chief.
Jaitley however tried to clear the air saying Dalbir Suhag’s appointment is final. He further said that politics shouldn’t be played over army. But this is directly in contradiction with VK Singh’s stand in the matter. With government speaking in different voices Congress questioned Modi’s silence in this contentious issue. Senior Congress leaders have asked for resignation of VK Singh for putting army-civilian relation under strain.
Captain Amarinder Singh, someone who defeated Jaitley today said on Lok Sabha that VK Singh’s tweets are a disgrace and unbecoming of a former Army Chief. It needs to be seen whether government decides to brazen out this controversy or VK Singh is asked to tone down his rhetoric.
From one outrage to another, Delhi is literally losing its cool with people resorting to violence to protest again power cuts. Today news of sporadic violence came from East and South Delhi. Authorities though said that the situation is slowly going back to normal. But mood in the ground is quite different and likely to keep Modi Sarkar uneasy with Delhi Assembly elections slated soon. Power Minister Piyush Goel said that he will go to Bawana power plant (a major problem area) at night to inspect the work done.
AAP Chief and former Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal today wrote a letter to Narendra Modi to highlight the power crisis. He has sought a 10-minute appointment with the Prime Minister to discuss the burning problem. According to Kejriwal private power suppliers are guilty for this mess but the government is unwilling to crack the whip on them.
Export figures have arrived for the month of May and it is the highest in six months courtesy increased demand in the foreign market. Exports have grown by 12.4% yet trade deficit has touched a 10 month high, a fact which Modi sarkar has to address soon. Tomorrow retail inflation figures will be announced for May.
However food prices are spiraling upwards in major cities with concerns being raised over possible shortage in rainfall this monsoon. Today Sensex and Nifty both ended at red after touching new high in intra-day trade.
Government is looking to pursue feverishly a project UPA envisioned but failed to implement. It is hoping to pass a bill so that elite universities from across the world can open campuses in India. Today Congress youth workers protested in front of Smriti Irani’s house demanding abolition of the 4-year UG Course in Delhi University. Incidentally, Kapil Sibal as HRD Minister had green signaled this course!
A critical IB report to the PMO has alleged that many NGOs are acting on behest of western countries to sabotage India’s economy in the garb of protecting environment. Report alleges that funds are funnelled by these NGOs to organize protest against big ticket infrastructure project. Government has promised to look at this matter seriously. Meanwhile Greenpeace one of the NGOs under scanner has completely denied the charges.
Finally, a look at the key economic parameters as of today…