Leading India to full independence

Great changes are witnessed in history on rare occasions. 2014 was such a time for India when it saw momentous changes in its political history. At that time, people wanted to get rid of an incapable and corrupt government. This is what drove them to vote the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Narendra Modi, to power.

People generally don’t repose enough trust in an incumbent government to vote it back to power a second time. Modi is one of the few leaders in Indian history to have been voted in successively, and with an even greater mandate, to office. While the 2014 mandate was for change, the 2019 one was a clear indication of the people’s acceptance and trust in the changes that were brought by his government. However, when people put such faith in any political leader, the challenge he faces in fulfilling their aspirations and expectations is huge. This requires a substantial degree of political credibility. But in 2019, when the BJP government came to power again, Prime Minister (PM) Modi took several decisions in a courageous and determined manner to fulfil the promises made, something which has remained the ideological foundation of the party.

In doing so over the last one year, Modi has enhanced his credibility and that of the BJP. In fact, the last year can be considered a milestone from the credibility perspective for politics. Whatever one’s political ideology, on this count, the political fraternity should acknowledge Modi ’s contribution.

The abrogation of Article 370, the abolition of triple talaq, amendments in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and paving the way for the construction of a temple at the Ram Janmabhoomi site in Ayodhya makes the year memorable on many counts — social, political and constitutional. Muslims women have long been victims of the practice of talaq-e-biddat, which makes it easy for a husband to divorce his wife by uttering a few words. They do not have to fear this now. In fact, the abolition of this practice has given Muslim women their self-respect back. After the Supreme Court judgment on Ram Janmabhoomi , the degree of peace and amity that was seen across the country, counts, in my view, as a seminal achievement of the Modi government in the last one year. Our political ideology is based on Ram’s ideals of Ram Rajya, which enjoins upon everyone to live in peace while practising their own religions.

While Modi tried to reverse the crisis of credibility in politics, the Opposition parties did the opposite when on the issue of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA, they issued hostile statements. The states ruled by them passed resolutions and sullied the issue. India is a secular nation, and being a global power, it is our constitutional duty to help those people who suffer from religious persecutions in our neighbourhood. Amending CAA to give citizenship to the persecuted religious minorities, is, I feel, an unprecedented step in the history of secularism. But vested political interests tried to create baseless misconceptions among the Muslim community.

The first year of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)-2 government saw more assistance for farmers, better working conditions for labourers, small shop owners and other micro, medium and small enterprises, and assured pension for the elderly.

As defence minister, the first thing that I wanted was to create the office of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), which had been pending and could facilitate better coordination among the forces. On August 15, 2019, the PM, in his address to the nation from the Red Fort, announced the creation of the post of CDS. In NDA-1, the government resolved the one- rank one-pension issue.

In order to make India self-reliant in security terms, the thrust was on domestic production of defence equipment, the indigenous manufacture of guns and rifles with private sector participation, the corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board, ensuring the delivery of the state-of-the-art Rafale fighter plane from France and the induction of the indigenously-built fighter jet Tejasinto the Indian Air Force. I have flown in both these jet fighters and am proud of India’s defence achievements over the last year.

Today, as the world faces the greatest threat in recent history to mankind, the coronavirus pandemic, the PM has displayed both vigilance and competence in fighting this by imposing a strict lockdown at the right time. Today, migrant workers and farmers are going through very difficult challenges. But the government has acted with utmost sensitivity and that is commendable. From ensuring the direct transfer of money into the accounts of poor people and providing them free food grains, to taking inputs from not only politicians but all sections of society, the PM has set the bar for efficient administration very high.

Modi displayed his capability for turning challenges into opportunities by implementing, over the last year, several decisions such as allowing farmers to sell their crops anywhere; introducing a one-nation one-ration card system for labourers; changing the definition of small and medium enterprises; and developing India as a major repair maintenance and overhauling hub for aircraft. The effects of all this will be seen in the decades to come.

This is the centenary year of the death anniversary of Lokmanya Tilak. He raised the slogan of complete independence for India. Given the kind of work that Modi has undertaken in the service of the nation, it can be said with confidence that the Swarajya dream of Tilak at the beginning of the 20th century will most likely be achieved by the third decade of the 21st century.

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