Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s penchant for lengthy speeches has been the most evident in his addresses to the nation on India’s Independence Day.
Modi has delivered from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort some of the lengthiest speeches by Indian prime ministers, which include Jawahar Lal Nehru’s iconic 72-minute ‘Tryst with destiny’ speech on the eve of the country’s first Independence Day in 1947.
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Like his predecessors, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has used the August 15 speeches to highlight his government’s achievements and vision for taking the country forward.
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His speeches have been “roughly two to three times longer” than former prime ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh, according to a The Print report.
Modi delivered his first Independence Day speech in 2014 just months after the Bharatiya Janata Party’s thumping victory in the General Elections. He spoke for nearly 65 minutes on the 68th Independence Day. Speaking extempore, Modi held forth on the importance of cleanliness and announced the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ or ‘Clean India’ campaign.
His 2015 Independence Day speech went on for 86 minutes and included calls for ‘Team India’ rooting out corruption and making the country a developed nation by 2022. This was also when Modi announced the ‘Start-Up India, Stand-Up India’ initiative to encourage entrepreneurship among the country’s youth.
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In 2016, Modi delivered his lengthiest Independence Day speech till date at 96 minutes. He emphasized the need of forging unity and ending divisions based on caste and religion. He also slammed Pakistan for supporting terrorism and raised the issues of Balochistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
The prime minister kept his next Independence Day speech in 2017 to a relatively shorter duration of 56 minutes after revealing on the ‘Mann ki Baat’ radio programme that he had received letters complaining about the “little too long” August 15 speeches. The key highlight of his speech was his call for resolving the Kashmir issue by “embracing” Kashmiris. Modi also defended the controversial demonetization.
The 2018 Independence Day speech lasted for 83 minutes. Modi presented a report card of his government’s first term, speaking about surgical strikes against terror pads in Pakistan, GST, and the initiatives for building toilets, electrification, and strengthening the Indian passport.
The 2019 and 2020 Independence Day speeches lasted for 57 minutes and 86 minutes, respectively.