Fact-Checking PM Modi’s Last Speech in Lok Sabha Before 2019 Polls
Video Editor: Mohd Ibrahim
Video Producer: Furqan Faridi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, 7 February, delivered his last speech in the Lok Sabha ahead of the 2019 general elections, scheduled for later this year.
In what was a fiery speech replete with barbs aimed at the Congress, the prime minister made several claims, ranging from gas connections provided under his regime to the number of bank accounts opened.
Here is a fact-check on some of PM Modi’s claims.
On Rural Sanitation
CLAIM: “In 55 years, sanitation coverage stood at 40%. In my 55 months, I have brought it to 98%”, said PM Modi.
FACT: According to the Economic Survey 2017-18, the rural sanitation coverage in 2014 stood at 39%.
According to the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, 98.82% of individual households have now been equipped with toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission –Gramin.
Further, according to the Ministry’s data on ‘Status of declared and verified ODF Villages’, 5,49,594 villages have been declared open-defecation free, but the number of verified ODF villages differs.
The process of ODF is not a one-time process. At least double verification is required once the declaration is made.
The number of verified ODF (1st level) villages totals to 4,61,929 out of the 5,49,594 ODF-declared villages, which indicates that 16 percent of the declared villages are yet to be verified.
The verified ODF (2nd level) villages are only 79,088, which indicates only 14 percent of the declared ODF are sustainable.
TAKEAWAY: While on paper rural sanitation has reached a high, the sustainability remains a grey area.
On Gas Connections
CLAIM: “In 55 years, there was a total of 12 crore LPG connections; in my 55 months, I have introduced fresh 13 crore connections, of which six crore are from the Ujjwala yojana,” claimed PM Modi.
FACT: According to the PPAC report from 1.1.2018, as on 1 April 2014, there were 16.63 crore registered domestic LPG customers.
While the PMUY has achieved around six crore LPG connections, the scheme only covers the initial connection.
TAKEAWAY: Subsequent refills have to be done by the families, most of whom cannot afford it. Further, data on these refills is unavailable. Thus, whether or not the scheme is successful is a different question altogether.
CLAIM: “In their 2004, 2009 and 2014 manifestos, the Congress had claimed that in three years, they would bring electricity to every house. They couldn't do it.
2.5 crore houses have been provided with electricity by our government. In the next few days, we'll complete 100% electrification” claimed PM Modi.
FACT: According to the CEA annual report, the target for Saubhagya was pegged at 3.7 crore in October 2017. However, the Saubhagya dashboard pegs the target for the same date to be 2.48 crore, indicating that targets may have been slashed by up to 1.2 crore.
TAKEAWAY: There are some glaring discrepancies in data with respect to two different targets specified for the same date.
On Fisheries Ministry
CLAIM: “The fishermen have had a long standing demand for a separate ministry. We have proposed the setting up of a fisheries ministry in this year's Budget,” Modi said.
FACT: In his interim budget speech, Piyush Goyal did touch upon fisheries, but he proposed setting up of a fisheries department, and not a ministry. “To provide sustained and focused attention towards development of this sector, our Government has decided to create a separate Department of Fisheries,” he said.
A department is not directly headed by a minister and works under a ministry, which can have multiple departments.
TAKEAWAY: Currently, the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries works under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. The recent proposal, if implemented, would mean a separate department for fisheries, but not a ministry.
On Broadband Connectivity
CLAIM: “In 2014, you (the Congress) had said every village will be connected with digital optical fiber within two years. Till 2014, only 59 villages had broadband connectivity. But a total of 1,16,000 villages have broadband connectivity today,” said PM Modi.
FACT: The 59 villages or Gram Panchayats cited by PM Modi were part of the pilot projects conducted for the Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL), completed on 15 October 2012. The BBNL project was incorporated on 25 February 2012 and was mandated to set up the National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) in a total of around 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats.
According to the Annual report 2013-14 of the BBNL, apart from the 59 GPs, work was in progress in 238 Blocks covering 6950 Gram Panchayats.
As per a Lok Sabha answer from 12 December 2018, a total of 1,16,411 gram panchayats had been equipped with the broadband as on 2 December 2018.
TAKEAWAY: The Modi government has not taken into account the groundwork that was being done over the course of 2013-14, as mentioned in the annual report of BBNL.
On Bank Accounts
CLAIM: “There were only 50% bank accounts till 2014. Now, we are close to reaching 100% coverage,” said PM Modi.
FACT: In its Global Findex Database, 2017, World Bank says, "In India, the share of adults with an account has more than doubled since 2011, to 80 percent."
However, it also notes: “In India, the share of inactive accounts is 48 percent — the highest in the world and about twice the average of 25 percent for developing economies”.
TAKEAWAY: India certainly might have achieved financial inclusion on paper, however, the high percentage of inactive and zero-balance accounts paint a different picture.
Did Gandhi Dream of a ‘Congress-Mukt Bharat’?
CLAIM: “Gandhi ne kaha tha Congress ko bikher do. Congress Mukt Bharat Gandhi ka Sapna tha.”
FACT: The so-called last wish of Mahatma Gandhi often (mis)quoted in support of the political slogan of "Congress Mukt Bharat" is actually based on a note written by Gandhi. This note was published after his assassination on 15 February 1948 in Harijan magazine under the heading "His Last Will And Testament.", where he wrote:
"India having attained political independence through means devised by the Indian National Congress, the Congress in its present shape and form, ie, a propaganda vehicle and parliamentary machine, has outlived its use. India has still to attain social, moral and economic independence.... The struggle for the ascendancy of civil over military power is bound to take place in India’s progress towards its democratic goal. It must be kept out of unhealthy competition with political parties and communal bodies. For these and other similar reasons, the AICC resolves to disband the existing Congress organisation and flower into a Lok Sevak Sangh."
TAKEAWAY: Gandhi is being quoted out of context. He never really meant 'Congress-mukt Bharat' in its literal sense.
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