From keeping quiet on China to mentioning Chhath: The politics of PM Modi’s speech decoded

Using the element of surprise PM Narendra Modi fired a pro-poor move with an electoral spin on a day the opposition was busy attempting to corner him on the border stand-off with China and plight of the masses due to Covid-19 and economic distress.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi started his 16-minute speech, one day before Unlock 2.0 guidelines would kick in, by asking people not to go easy on social distancing and hygiene measures as lockdown restrictions are being eased across the country.

He next asked authorities to emulate Bulgaria where PM Boyko Borissov was fined Rs 13,000 for failing to wear a mask during a church visit on June 23.

Then came the main announcement of PM Modi’s address — he said that the government has decided to extend the free ration scheme for 80 crore people for five more months till the end of November.

The PM’s shortest address since lockdown 1.0 was on air exactly when a meeting of core commanders of the Indian and Chinese armies was on and Congress ex-president Rahul Gandhi was on Twitter posting couplets and video statements asking the prime minister to explain his failures, advising him to deposit Rs 7,500 in every poor man’s account and check fuel prices.


Since last night when the PMO declared PM Modi was going to address the nation at 4 pm on Tuesday, speculation was rife — will he take on China with a rousing speech or announce a tightening of screws against Chinese business interests in India or even announce a coronavirus-related measure.

Respecting the delicate nature of negotiations-cum-coercive diplomatic and military policy, PM Modi didn’t touch upon China or the high on visibility news of blocking 59 Chinese apps in India. While he mentioned the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, there was no Sabre rattling.


Announcing the extension of the free foodgrain scheme for the needy till November, PM Modi said, “July marks the beginning of the festive season which increases necessities as well as expenditure. Keeping all these things in mind, it has been decided to extend the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana up to Diwali and Chhath Puja i.e. till November-end.”

He added,” The government will provide free ration to 80 crore poor brothers and sisters for five months. Every member of the family will get five kilograms of wheat or rice. Also, every family will get one-kilogram whole chana dal per month, free of cost. Rs 90,000 crore will…

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