February 7, 2017 4:07:40 pm
Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered his first speech in parliament on Tuesday after demonetisation and the timing couldn’t have been better. PM Modi avoided the backlash of initial days when the country was suffering from a severe cash crunch and chose to speak on the matter only in election rallies and his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio address to the nation. His speech ran an hour long and came close on the heels of the first phase of Uttar Pradesh Assembly election.
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PM Modi spoke on demonetisation and a host of other initiatives of the government. PM Modi said that his government and his party welcomed a debate on demonetisation but attacked the Opposition. His main target was the Congress party accusing its leaders of being more interested in giving bytes to television news channels than engaging in debates on demonetisation.
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From a larger point of view, his address was long due and since the country had suffered so much in the aftermath of demonetisation, it was only fitting for him to speak in Parliament. The crux of his address was promotion of digital economy and farmer welfare programs.
Considering the fact that Uttar Pradesh goes to polls on February 11 for only its first phase out of seven, PM Modi may have calculated that addressing these issues will help counter the Opposition’s attacks in the state.
Samajwadi Party, Bahujam Samaj Party and Congress Party have kept demonetisation among their top poll issues in their election campaigns and PM’s absence from Parliament could’ve been one issue that the parties could’ve exploited.
Much of his speech was validation of his push for digital economy. PM Modi put the Congress in a fix when he said former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi brought the IT revolution into India but when he asks the same people to use mobile phones and the internet to move to a digital economy, he gets criticised.
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However, the reality is that much of the country is still not ready to take that leap. A large portion has managed to make the switch but a comprehensive shift will take some going.
On the whole, despite the expected protest, PM Modi managed to make the full use of the occasion and would definitely expect his address to boost his party’s campaign in the poll-bound states.
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