- PM Modi said centre took major steps in just 10 weeks of second term
- He denounced political opposition to the centre's Article 370 move
- Abrogating Article 370 is important for a united India, said PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing the nation today on its 73rd Independence Day, said within a short span of 10 weeks, his government in its second term had taken major steps like ending special status to Jammu and Kashmir and pushing legislation banning instant triple talaq.
Speaking from the Red Fort after hoisting the national flag, the Prime Minister bluntly denounced political opposition to his Article 370 move.
"Those who speak in support of Article 370, the nation asks them, if it was so essential and life-changing, if you had the conviction, then for 70 years, why did it remain temporary, why did you not use your large mandates to make it permanent?" PM Modi questioned, apparently targeting the Congress, which has accused the government of blindsiding the opposition in parliament with the swift move to scrap special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and split it into two Union Territories.
"Abrogating Article 370 is an important step in fulfilling Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's dream for a united India," he said. "One Nation, One Constitution - this spirit has become a reality and India is proud of it."
Pointing out that the move was passed in parliament by a two-third majority, he said: "This means that it was on everyone's mind but no one wanted to take the initiative."
He asserted: "Our government doesn't let problems like Article 370 fester. It is not the time to stall things. It is the time for action. What did not happen in 70 years, the new government did in 70 days."
Referring to the ban on triple talaq or instant divorce, PM Modi said: "Our Muslim sisters and daughters used to live in fear. They felt shackled. Some went through the misery brought due to triple talaq, some didn't. Why could we not speak up earlier? Even Muslim countries got rid of it, but it continued in India. We must all now raise our voice against this social evil and stand by our Muslim sisters and daughters for their rights."
If India could end "sati" and child marriage, he added, why not triple talaq?
This was PM Modi's sixth straight Independence Day address and the first after he won a massive victory in the national election earlier this year.
Wearing a white kurta and his customary safaa or turban, this time in mustard, red and green, PM Modi spoke before a large gathering of ministers, diplomats and schoolchildren at the historic Mughal-built Red Fort.
"Many thought in 2014, will changing a government really bring the change I want to see in my country? We worked extremely hard in between 2014 and 2019, thinking only of our nation and our countrymen and worked tirelessly for them... And in 2019 we saw that there was belief, that people gave a mandate because they believed their country could change for the better," the Prime Minister said on his re-election.
PM Modi said his government would focus on a "Jal Jeevan Mission" to ensure water for all. "It is unfortunate, however, that so many people lack access to water even 70 years after Independence," he said.
He began his speech with a reference to the devastation in several states because of floods. This morning, PM Modi paid tribute at Mahatma Gandhi's memorial Rajghat before addressing the nation.
"Happy Independence Day to all my fellow Indians. Jai Hind!" he tweeted from his official Twitter account in the morning.