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PM Dares Opposition to 2019 Battle With Social Justice and Modicare Pitch, Invokes Vajpayee

The two big-ticket announcements made by PM Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech were the rollout of the Ayushman Bharath healthcare scheme and the plan to send an Indian to the space by 2022.

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Updated:August 15, 2018, 10:48 AM IST
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PM Dares Opposition to 2019 Battle With Social Justice and Modicare Pitch, Invokes Vajpayee
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation during Independence Day celebrations at the historic Red Fort in Delhi on August 15, 2018. (PTI)
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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi set the stage for the 2019 electoral battle with his Independence Day speech at the Red Fort, highlighting social justice and universal healthcare as the main agenda of his government.

The two big-ticket announcements made by the PM were the rollout of the Ayushman Bharath healthcare scheme and the plan to send an Indian to the space by 2022, the year India celebrates its 75th Independence Day.

Announcing the mega health scheme Ayushman Bharat, now repackaged as Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Abhiyaan, Modi said it will be rolled out on September 25, the birth anniversary of Deendayal Upadhyaya.

“The scheme will provide a cover of Rs 5 lakh per year to 50 crore individuals across income groups. However wealthy the family may be, a perennial illness dents financial stability of the family forever. In order to prevent that from happening, we will be holding experiments in this sector for the next 6-7 weeks after which we will officially roll out the scheme,” the PM said.

Announcing India’s second space odyssey after Rakesh Sharma’s adventure in 1984, Modi said, “An Indian astronaut, be it a man or a woman, will go on a space odyssey by 2022 on board 'Gaganyaan' carrying the national flag.”

In his last Independence Day address ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections, Modi spoke at length about the progress India has made under his government and asserted that its rise is being hailed by the world.

Modi drew a comparison between the situation in 2013 and how things stand today and said if the pace of the UPA government's last year was maintained, it would have taken decades, centuries and generations to build as many toilets, distribute as many LPG connections among the poor and lay down as much optical fibre as his government has done.

“The country is brimming with self-confidence today and forging ahead with a new sense of commitment… India is moving forward at a new pace,” he said.

Modi also spoke about the recent Monsoon Session of Parliament and said it was dedicated to social justice, with measures being taken to protect the interests of Dalits, deprived people, tribal people, women and Backwards groups. "We have to ensure social justice for all and create an India that is progressing rapidly," he said.

Taking a dig at the Congress, Modi said if his government had continued with the same pace of development, the country would have taken decades to reach where it was today. "Yes, I am impatient because many of the countries have moved forward. We have to move forward too. Malnutrition is a big problem in the country's development. I am anxious to eradicate it.”

"I am impatient to provide health cover to every poor person so that they can fight diseases. I am anxious to provide quality life to all citizens. I am eager because we have to lead knowledge-based fourth industrial revolution. I am eager because I want that the country uses its resources and potential," he said.

Promising sanitation, housing, electricity, water, LPG, skills, health insurance and connectivity for all, Modi said towards the end of the speech that he wanted to create a new India for a better future.

"We have to make a new sunrise and take the country ahead of the skies and create a new India. We want to move ahead with the dream of reaching the crescendo of development. We want to progress more. There is no question of stopping or getting tired on the way," he said.

The Prime Minister said India was earlier seen among the fragile five nations but now it had turned itself into a "land of reform, perform and transform".

"We are all set for record economic growth. India's voice is being heard effectively at the world stage. We are integral part of forums whose doors were earlier closed for us," he said.

"The demand for higher MSP (minimum support price for farmers) was pending for years. From farmers to political parties to agriculture experts, everybody was asking about it but nothing happened. The decision was taken by our government to provide the MSP of 1.5 times of production cost."

He said the armed forces veterans were demanding one rank, one pension but no one listened to them before the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power.

He talked about the Goods and Services Tax (GST), saying it had given new confidence to small and big traders who "wholeheartedly embraced" the new tax regime despite "initial problems".

"Who did not want the passage of the GST? Yet, it was pending for years. Last year it became a reality. The OROP demand was pending for decades. The people of India, our brave Army personnel had faith in us and we were able to take a decision on OROP."

Drawing a parallel between the pace of works during UPA and the NDA governments, he said: "If we had continued at the same pace at which toilets were being built in 2013, the pace at which electrification was happening, LPG gas cylinders were being distributed and optical fibres were being laid in 2013, then it would have taken us decades to complete them.

"The country is now feeling the change. As a result, we are making highways with a double speed, houses are being made in villages with four times more pace, there is record production, we are manufacturing record mobiles. Today we are buying more aeroplanes.

"It is the same land, same sky, sea, government offices and the country. But in the last four years, India has moved with a new zeal and therefore today India is constructing twice the highways and producing record crops."
| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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