Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the first 100 days of his government have shown that it knows how to take challenges head-on, and a road map has been prepared to help different sectors to strengthen the economy.
Over the course of the day, Modi, Union ministers Amit Shah, Prakash Javadekar and others addressed public rallies, press conferences and reached out to people on social media to highlight the “bold initiatives and decisive actions” of Modi 2.0, but the government also faced persistent questions on economic slowdown and job losses.
On the proposed economic road map, the PM said, “This is only the beginning and its benefits will be felt in the coming time.”
Addressing a public rally in Haryana’s Rohtak to launch his party’s Assembly election campaign, the PM said the first 100 days were a story of “development, trust, big changes in the country, decisiveness, dedication, and good intention”. He described the merger of banks as a “historic decision”.
In the national capital, Javadekar attributed the economic slowdown to cyclical causes and that slowdown was a fact the world over. He described it as “sketchy” and a “temporary” phase. He said the situation was not such that people should panic. The minister, addressing a press conference to highlight the government’s “achievements”. He expressed hope that the economy would soon “come back on track”. “We should not be worried too much. The government is responding as much as it can,” the minister said.
In Rohtak, the prime minister said India was capable of challenging any challenge, whether decades old — a reference to his government scrapping the provisions of Article 370 — or of the future — an allusion to the launch of Chandrayaan2. In Delhi, Javadekar stressed that Modi hugging ISRO chief K Sivan, after loss of contact with the moon lander, was proof of it being a “sensitive” government.
In Rajasthan’s holy town of Pushkar, the three-day Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) coordination meeting with its affiliates lauded the government on strengthening anti-terror laws, proscribing triple talaq and removing provisions of Article 370. If Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) General Secretary Ram Madhav briefed delegates at the RSS meet over concerns at “genuine” citizens not finding their names in the national register of citizens (NRC), Home Minister Shah was in Guwahati addressing the chief ministers of the northeastern states on the issue. He said not a single illegal migrant will be allowed to say in India.
Javadekar briefed the media on the government’s achievements with the help of a 20-slide presentation. The slides related to government’s commitment to economic development of Jammu and Kashmir, merger of PSBs, boost to automobile sector, its promise to launch infrastructure projects of Rs 100 trillion, corporate law and tax reforms.
However, Javadekar faced a barrage of questions on job losses and economic slowdown. He said the slowdown was unlikely to hurt as the fundamentals of the Indian economy and the GDP growth has consistently been over 7 per cent in the last five years. He said the 5 per cent GDP growth in the last quarter was similar to the UPA period, where despite the consistent 7-8 per cent growth there was one quarter with 5 per cent growth.
The minister said India had received more foreign direct investment (FDI) than China last year. On unemployment, he said India’s was a dynamic economy, which would face problems and come up with answers.
The Congress criticised the government on the economic situation. Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said the government was celebrating 100 days in office, but was silent about “ruining the economy” and trying to hide the grim situation using “drama, deceit, lies and propaganda”.
In a tweet, Rahul Gandhi “congratulated” Modi government on 100 days of “no development”, “continued subversion of democracy, a firmer stranglehold on a submissive media to drown out criticism and a glaring lack of leadership, direction and plans where it’s needed the most — to turnaround our ravaged economy”.
At a press conference, Congress leader Kapil Sibal said Modi government was pursuing politics of “arrogance, uncertainty and vendetta”. He said there was “blatant misuse” of central probe agencies against Opposition leaders, but no action against BJP leaders like Mukul Roy, Kuldeep Sengar and several others.
Sibal said demand was down, sales had slumped in the automobile and other sectors and job losses were a reality. He said increase in import duty of gold was hurting its business by more than 40 per cent; there were 450,263 unsold units of flats in eight major cities in the first half of 2019 and unemployment was at 8.2 per cent.
The Congress pointed to the GDP slide, private consumption spending “slumping to an 18-quarter low”, construction and manufacturing activity down, shortfall in GST collections and the rupee being one of the worst performing currencies in August. “Indian needs to grow at a nominal rate of 12 per cent to reach the target of $5-trillion economy by 2024,” he said.
In Rohtak, Modi said, “We know how to take challenges head-on. Be it the matter of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh or serious water crisis, 1.3 billion people of the country have started looking for new solutions.”
He spoke of the government’s efforts in healthcare, Swachh Bharat, yoga, ujjwala, Ayurveda and Fit India movement. The PM said each house will get piped water by 2024. “It has been decided that to conserve water and to ensure that water reaches each house, a sum of Rs 3.5 trillion will be spent in the coming five years,” he said.
In a series of tweets, Home Minister Shah said Modi government was “synonymous” with national security, development and welfare of the poor besides being a “symbol of hope” for every section of society.
Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani described the first 100 days as historic, and tweeted some of the steps taken.