PM Modi May Speak Extempore In First Independence Day Speech

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to speak extempore when he makes his first Independence Day speech at Delhi’s Red Fort on Friday. If he does, he will probably be the first prime minister to address the nation on August 15 without a script. Modi is expected to reach the Red Fort at around 7.20 am. After a Guard of Honour by the armed forces, he will unfurl the national flag. His speech, which is likely to last 45 minutes to one hour, is set to break new ground in more ways than one. For the first time, seating is being prepared for more than 10,000 people to attend.

The Prime Minister has asked four ministers to help him with his speech. (Young Ministers Smriti Irani, Piyush Goyal on PM’s Independence Day Speech Committee) Modi, 63, is used to making long speeches without prepared text and is seen by many as a speaker who can keep his audience engaged. Sources close to him say a prepared speech or a teleprompter would take away from his natural ease at connecting with people. But officials have voiced concern that an unscripted address in Hindi would be lost on foreign diplomats.

The PM’s idol is former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, the BJP veteran known to be one of the country’s best orators. BJP leaders believe Mr Vajpayee’s Independence Day speeches missed his sparkling wit as he read from a text. Modi, who led his party to a stunning victory in the national election, reportedly wants his first Independence Day speech to set a benchmark.

He is likely to outline his government’s priorities in broad strokes but avoid specifics. On August 14 last year, Mr Modi had challenged that his Independence Day speech the next day in Gujarat, as chief minister, would draw as much attention as that of then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s from the Red Fort. He later criticised Dr Singh’s address as uninspiring and disappointing. Many BJP leaders had then wagered that Modi’s next Independence Day speech would be at the Red Fort.


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