Prime Minister Narendra Modi had charmed the electorate across much of India with his promise of 'achhe din' or better days in the 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign.
On Monday, a year since he was sworn in, Modi claimed the first year of his government had brought an end to 'bure din' or bad days of the last years of the earlier government, characterised by corruption and nepotism, he said.
He said those complaining about his government were 'dalal' or middlemen, active in Delhi's corridors of power for 60 years. "I never promised better days for those involved in scams or people who have robbed the country," the PM said.
This was at a rally to launch his government and Bharatiya Janata Party's weeklong 'Jan Kalyan Parva' or festival for people's welfare, from village Nagla Chandrabhan, birthplace of Bharatiya Jana Sangh founder Deendayal Upadhyaya, near Mathura. The BJS was the earlier avatar of the BJP. Modi's was the first of 200 public rallies that BJP leaders are to address in the coming days across India, to mark this first year of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.
Much of the PM's speech focused on the work his government had done for the poor and farmers. 'Garib' and 'kisan', that is the poor and farmers, featured at least two dozen times. Opposition parties, particularly Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, have been rapping the government as anti-farmer and pro-corporate. But, Modi didn't mention the contentious amendments to the Land Act of 2013 even once.
In a reference to the Nehru-Gandhi family and its UPA coalition rule, Modi asked if they still read reports of corruption, nepotism, government run by remote control or scams involving a "son-in-law or a son" of a political leader. He said Delhi in the past six decades wasn't as much a power centre but of several power circles. "I have smashed hundreds of these power circles. There is now no place for middlemen in the corridors of power," he said.
The PM said he would run the country in such a way that there would be more 'bad days' for the corrupt. He wouldn't, he said, be only a 'pradhan mantri' but also a 'pradhan sentry', to guard the coffers.
The PM spoke about e-auction of minerals, his government's pro-poor and pro-farmer policies like the Jan Dhan Yojana and a 'soil card' for farmers. He said there was a need to ensure better irrigation and power supply for the agrarian sector. He spoke of several steps to ensure timely supply of fertiliser and steps to revive urea manufacturing factories in Gorakhpur, Sindri and Barauni.
The PM also listed the reforms in employee provident fund, a minimum pension of Rs 1,000 to 3.2 million people and an eight-fold increase in foreign investment from Rs 3,000 crore in the last year of UPA rule to Rs 25,000 crore. Modi said it wasn't the big industrialists but 60 million smaller entrepreneurs who gave jobs to 120 million people; the Mudra Bank being set up would help them get loans.
"The World Bank says a poor family spends Rs 7,000 on medicines each year," he said, reiterating the need for cleanliness to prevent disease.
The PM said Mahatma Gandhi, socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia and Upadhyaya had shaped Indian political discourse and the poor were at the centre of their philosophy. This is why, Modi said, he picked the 'Deendayal Dham', birthplace of Upadhyaya, to share the one-year achievements of his government. He said 365 hours would be insufficient if he were to talk about the achievements of his government in these 365 days.