In Independence Day speech, PM Modi’s focus on women, OBCs, middle class

Aug 16, 2023 08:08 AM IST

PM Modi’s announcement about plans to train women in skills such as operating drones is in line with his emphasis on women’s empowerment

In his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the key constituencies--women, Other Backwards Classes (OBCs) and the middle class--that will play a pivotal role in steering the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s electoral juggernaut in the 2024 general elections.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort on the occasion of 77th Independence Day. (ANI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort on the occasion of 77th Independence Day. (ANI)

While there has been a steadfast outreach from the party and government towards this electorate with tailor-made schemes and programmes, the PM’s mention of a new scheme for OBCs, more financial growth for women and sops for the middle class is an indication that plans are afoot to blunt the anger over inflation.

According to party functionaries, the party’s internal feedback mechanism has flagged inflation and price rise of edible items as a huge challenge for the government and suggested steps to ameliorate the situation.

“As was done in the past through interventions such as subsidies and free ration to help those in need, going forward the government will take steps to deliver what is expected of it,” said a party functionary.

On Tuesday, the PM said his government is committed to improving the financial status of women through self-help groups and credited them for their role in contributing to the development of the country.

He said about 10 crore women are attached to self-help groups and working in a variety of sectors from being banking aids to anaganwadi workers. “It is my dream now to see 2 crore women become lakhpati didis (millionaires),” he said. The PM added, the government is pushing the issue of potential of women power and women-led development and has raised the issue at the G-20 platform as well.

Also Read | PM Narendra Modi delivers Independence Day speech from ramparts of Red Fort: Full text here

The PM’s announcement about plans to train women in skills such as operating drones is in line with his earlier declaration about women’s empowerment. In his Independence Day speech, he had referred to focussing on rural economy with the creation of women self-help groups.

Election analysts have credited women voters for contributing significantly to the BJP’s victory with a decisive mandate in 2014 and 2019.

The other group that has also been credited for the party’s victories in successive elections, the OBCs, were also wooed by the PM in his speech. He announced a new scheme for the artisans and those who work with hand-held tools that will be initiated on Vishwakarma Jayanti, on September 17.

“On this Vishwakarma Jayanti, we will start a scheme with an initial fund of 13-15,000 crore for workers engaged in traditional trade, those who work with tools, use their hands and are mostly from the OBC sections,” he said.

Even as the BJP is stitching together a coalition of various castes across states to take on the regional satraps, the party has been steadily pushing ahead leaders from the OBC sections.

For the middle class that has often complained of being given little by way of subsidies or tax rebates, and has been vocal about price rise and inflation, the PM offered an olive branch. He said since 13.5 crore people have been lifted out of poverty, the benefits of this mobility will help the middle class. “When the spending power of the poor increases, the middle-class benefits,” he said.

Given the positive outcome of the Awas Yojna, subsidised housing for the poor in the rural areas, he also announced that middle class families “that dream of owning a home” in the cities will be offered relief in bank loans.

“We have decided to give help worth lakhs of rupees through relief in home loan interest rates to those who live in rented accommodation, in shanties, chawls and unauthorised colonies if they want to construct a house,” he said.

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    Smriti covers an intersection of politics and governance. Having spent over a decade in journalism, she combines old fashioned leg work with modern story telling tools.

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