Friends, Citizens, Patriots,
So here we are, at the
end of a most eventful cycle, a time when the flag has never stood so high, on
so strong a pole, with so many people across the world watching in awe and
admiration. That is our offering, my offering to our beloved nation, for whih
no sacrifice is too great. The greatest contribution, of course, came from you.
We couldn’t have done a thing without your hand on the gun, your shoulder at
the wheel, your presence at the frontline where so many of you made the supreme
sacrifice. That is why I call myself the Prime Servant. We are not rulers, we
live to do your bidding. Unlike all the others, our calling card is service and
we give it greater importance than anything else. Your trust and your wishes
mean everything to us.
To give an example, when you gave us your trust in Assam, we said we would address your grievances over infiltrators and outsiders who have set themselves up at the cost of local people. So we took up the NRC on which the Congress has been sitting all these decades, because they profited so much from the infiltrators by swelling their own vote banks. There’s a huge stink now over what we’re doing but it’s mostly the jholawalas who love to argue points of law without understanding the feelings of ordinary folk. They don’t lose jobs to outsiders because they don’t work in the first place. All they do is talk a fine game about equal treatment and incite people with their pretence of tolerance. But they show their own intolerance by the way they dismiss the real fears of locals that they will be sidelined both culturally and economically by the infiltrators.
But we have this matter in hand and I can promise you that we will ram the solution down their throats and make your dream come true. Your wish is our command and we will do everything to make it happen. In fact, we’re looking into making this a nationwide register. That is our promise, the PS’ promise. We stand by you, but for that you must also stand by us. Together, we’re invincible. All we ask for is your trust.
You must understand that only a strong man can give you what is needed. Cast your mind back to February 27. He would never have done it if you didn’t want it, but you made your preference very clear. So he took us into the heart of danger and hit the enemy where it hurts most. Could anyone else have done that? Compare this with November 26, 2008 and you have your answer. You need someone with a 65-inch chest (some exaggeration here, it’s 56”) to protect your interests, a big man with a big heart and the will to act, not a smooth-talking baby face who has never seen hardship, never really worked at anything seriously. The enemy understands that we will slap back hard if he tries any more provocations so he will be careful in future. Your choice now is between a man who will grab the problem by the throat and a fellow who will sit down to tea and pakodas and talk about everything but the problem at hand. As I said, we take your safety seriously.
Love, they keep telling everyone, is a great leveller and is a better way to a solution. Your Prime Servant is the first to say yes. Where would we be if it wasn’t love for our subjects people that makes us work so hard? It is love for our Lord that makes us so determined to build that temple in Ayodhya. It is love for you, my beloved countrymen, that motivated your servant to found Swacch Bharat and Ayushman Bharat. We rest so much better knowing that you are now cared for in a way no had ever tried before. But even Lord Ram, the embodiment of righteousness, knew that love could not persuade Ravan to give up his unrighteous ways. The wicked need the sight of a sword and the smell of blood to remind them of the cost of crossing the line.
I myself am the most peaceful of men but when I think of the vile crimes committed by our neighbour I find it hard to contain myself. Yet when we took office your servant’s first impulse was to talk towards a solution. He knows how costly violence can be as you can’t bring back the dead. It was frustrating, like banging your head against a brick wall but he persisted. And what was the result? Terrorist attacks, hate speech and a bland refusal to admit responsibility for these crimes. It was only then that he decided, reluctantly, that the mailed fist was needed if we are to protect what we love. For that he has been labelled trigger-happy and oblivious to the dangers of starting a war by accident. I would even say efforts are being made to paint him in the same colours as the terrorists who attack and kill our people with impunity. Luckily, your servant has broad shoulders and is happy to take this bullet also if he can protect his people better. He doesn’t look for thanks because he is only doing his job. We always work for your safety, no matter the consequences.
One thing we are asked by everyone, friend, devotee and opponent, is, what have you done in your time in office? It’s a fair question because you want to know why you should endorse us a second time. Well, the first thing is Swacch Bharat and the second is universal electrification. Every village, no matter how remote, is connected to the power grid. We said we’d do it and we have. Almost every home now has a working toilet thanks to a scheme that we started as soon as we took office. More than two crore new homes have subsidised gas connections because of our redistribution programme. And as I already said, we have just rolled out Ayushman Bharat but even at this early date it promises to usher in a new era of healthcare that will transform this country. Its potential is hard to explain but I think five years from now people will be talking about the miracle of medical facilities available to every citizen, rich or poor.
You can be certain that these four programmes will become permanent, whether you give us another chance or not. If someone else takes our place they too will continue with it. They may rename it but they will never suspend or weaken it. They dare not. This is basic citizen care and it makes me proud that we introduced it though others had 70 years in which to bring in a scheme that would make life better for small people. It is a measure of our love for the people who gave us their trust if not their vote. It also shows up all those who say we aren’t capable of doing anything positive, for the good of everyone.
The opposition never loses a chance to make fun of our record, to paint us as this gang of bloodthirsty mediaeval fanatics whose only goal is to make life hell for non-Hindus. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Yes, there has been trouble and tragedy in some states and some of our senior leaders (who really should know better) have made unfortunate remarks about some of our co-citizens.
I say nothing about the liberals who daily mock our faith and our culture. They are intolerant of almost every aspect of it, whether it is worship, rituals or traditions, but find it perfectly in order to observe Christmas though everyone knows the divine birth is a fiction.
Let me tell you a little story here. The liberal crowd always talks of the importance of “the right to offend”. They say freedom of speech has no meaning if it forbids you from saying things that offend some people. Now what these people have said is highly offensive. I find their remarks extremely objectionable. But should I put them in jail or suspend them from the party because of that? Isn’t that behaving like a dictator? What does free speech really mean in that case? Moreover, some of them have decades of selfless public service in their background. They are good people who unfortunately went overboard at one time. Do we negate their entire record because of one mistake?
I say nothing about the liberals who daily mock our faith and our culture. They are intolerant of almost every aspect of it, whether it is worship, rituals or traditions, but find it perfectly in order to observe Christmas though everyone knows the divine birth is a fiction. We don’t like it but we recognise it is their right, as the honourable Supreme Court has observed. Maybe they should concede that right to us as well, some of the time at least.
As for the violence, I agree that there is no excuse for such barbarism. When Akhlaque Ahmed was murdered by a mob and his home torched, no one was more mortified than me. But there are strict limits to what the Centre can do. Law and order is a state subject and this event happened in Uttar Pradesh. We could not do anything but watch and wait for the state to call us for help. The never did. They said I was very late with my reaction which was also inadequate but I was under some constraint as the UP government was run by a different party which had made a special fetish of protecting the minority community. A strong remark at that point could have strained state-Centre ties and would certainly have been described as posturing. I did not want false allegations of Central interference distracting us from our real work so early in our tenure. In hindsight, I was probably too cautious but the motives were honest.
Now the same people have found a new scapegoat in Sadhvi Pragya Singh. How, they’re asking in fake outrage, can our party endorse a terror accused as an election candidate? Well, I have several questions for these people. Why is a person suspected of being at the heart of the 1984 mass murder of Sikhs in Delhi the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh? Why did the prime minister of the time excuse the carnage as “When a big tree falls, the earth shakes”? Why did so many of the conspirators end up running the government instead of being put in jail or hanged? On the same subject, how did the Don of Siwan, Mohammad Shahabuddin, multiple murderer and gangster, become a four-term MP from one of the opposition parties? Even as he sat in Parliament, he was running a criminal empire and plotting and committing murder at will under the protection of the state chief minister, who is now himself a convicted criminal.
Let me make one thing clear right away lest I be accused of hypocrisy. Every incident of violence must be condemned in one voice. No one has the right to take the law into their hands. Having said that, please understand that this is a vast country barely policed in some parts.
I don’t want to comment on the candidate because whatever I say will be twisted to suit political ends, but this is a person cleared by the Election Commission. No doubt she is a terror accused but whatever happened to the principle of innocent until proved guilty? This central element of our judicial system was proudly waved whenever Lalu Yadav or his cronies stood for election. Perhaps they should extend the same courtesy to others.
I hate to say it but we are being targeted by a blizzard of false accusations. It has been rolling for the last four years, a constant stream of lies ranging from our supposed intolerance to hate speech to intimidation, discrimination against the minority community to inciting communal passions to orchestrated violence and murder. We have been accused of every crime in the book and some outside it. The “evidence” they cite is mostly anecdotal, a number of unconnected incidents arranged to look like a conspiracy. Let me make one thing clear right away lest I be accused of hypocrisy. Every incident of violence must be condemned in one voice. No one has the right to take the law into their hands. Having said that, please understand that this is a vast country barely policed in some parts. That’s been the story of the last 70 years. Violence has a million faces here and we can’t possibly name them all or stop them every time. We can only advise states on law and order as we have no right to police them. Even so, if you look at the numbers, it is in a much better place than five years ago. To cherry pick examples from a number of states run by our party and show them as part of a countrywide conspiracy to demonise a particular community is a display of paranoia on the same scale as we are accused of harbouring.
On a personal note, every case of violence makes me feel ashamed of my failure to prevent it. This is my job and I’m falling down on it. But what really wounds me is the charge that I’m okay with targeting Muslims. It leaves me speechless because in my book a victim of violence has no creed or colour. It’s like that tag of merchant of death. After a while I stopped flinching. But it never ceased to hurt, like being stabbed in the heart. With some hesitation I should point out that scores of perpetrators of the 2002 mass murder in my home state are sitting in jail as a result of the prosecutions we initiated. We are the only state to do so in recent memory. This is not a matter of pride; we can’t bring back the dead but we are making the guilty pay.
Anyhow, let me stop defending myself. What we have done in the last five years is unprecedented in many ways. The damage wrought by our predecessor was a lot worse than we had estimated but we are fixing it although there is still some way to go. One thing you can be sure of is that no one is talking about corruption because we don’t allow it. We haven’t kept all our promises, especially on jobs. There are many reasons for that; it wasn’t for want of trying.
I know people make fun of our promise of acche din. Let me just remind you of the four achievements I mentioned earlier. I’m sure there are many families who have felt the impact of all four and that it has made a positive difference. Just look around in their neighbourhood and ask one such family if they are experiencing acche din. Their answer will probably tell you everything you need to know about this government and this movement of Indians. I should also add that as the schemes expand to their optimal size they will create tens of thousands of jobs in various sectors that will be needed to keep them running. These in turn will create new competencies that will spur more change and growth. We are indeed on the cusp of a huge change and I invite everyone to come on board.
Most politicians and parties have a common trick. They know some of the people will always vote for them, some of the people need to be persuaded to vote for them, and some never will vote for them. The most loyal get the least priority and the least loyal the first preference. We are the only ones to give our most loyal supporters what they want. Those who don’t support us also get exactly what they deserve most. No one can accuse of not being inclusive but we don’t pander to anyone.
Remember, dear friends, we will always be working for you. On that note, I await that dawn when a new era begins. Until then, this is your servant,