Independence Day speech: PM Modi set to deliver his sixth straight speech on August 15

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will deliver on Thursday his sixth straight Independence Day speech and is expected to touch on a host of issues, ranging from his governments landmark decision on Jammu and Kashmir to the state of economy, in what will be also be his first address after coming back to power with a huge mandate. Modi has used August 15 addresses to announce his governments showpiece programmes like Swachh Bharat, Ayushman Bharat and Indias first manned space mission, and to present a report card on its performance to highlight how the country has grown on his watch. The BJPs remarkable win in the recent general election followed by its success in getting Parliaments nod to its contentious but core agenda of revoking Jammu and Kashmirs special status under Article 370, has already set the tempo of his speech, party leaders believe. In his address to the nation last week, he had assured people of the Valley development and peace, as he sought to assuage concerns following his governments decision to scrap the states special status and dividing it into two Union Territories. The situation in Kashmir remains far from normal amid a security clampdown and communication restrictions. This will be Modis sixth August 15 speech, a number equal to the addresses from the ramparts of the Red Fort by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the first and only other prime minister from the BJP. Vajpayee had given six straight speeches between 1998-2003. With a dispirited opposition unable to pose any serious challenge to the BJPs hegemony and Modis return to power with a majority even bigger than his landslide win in 2014, many believe he may use the occasion to announce reforms or make concessions to different sections of the society. There is also a view that Modi may seek to address concerns over the economic slowdown. He has often invoked Indias rich cultural and spiritual traditions to rally peoples support for some of his pet projects Some BJP leaders noted that an element of surprise has often marked the prime ministers addresses and this Independence Day speech may not be different.