15th August 2013, New Delhi, India Commemoration of 66 Years of Independence
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday called for political stability and strong secular values as he made his last Independence Day speech ahead of the much-awaited 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Addressing the nation from the Red Fort on the country’s 67th Independence Day, he also made it clear that relations with Pakistan can only improve when it checks anti-India activities on its soil.
Speaking in Hindi as usual, the Prime Minister presented the big picture, placing emphasis on what the Congress-led UPA government had achieved in the last nine years — and what more could be done on the economic front before the next Lok Sabha election due next year.
In comments laced with political overtones, Manmohan Singh, 81, declared that there was no place “for narrow and sectarian ideologies in a modern, progressive and secular country.
“Such ideologies divide our society and weaken our democracy. We should prevent them from growing,” he said in a crisp 35-minute speech, standing behind a bullet-proof enclosure at the Red Fort.
“We need to strengthen those traditions of our country which teach us to promote tolerance and respect for thought processes different from ours.”
Thousands of police and paramilitary personnel provided security at the venue. Hundreds of school children dressed in the national tricolour were in the front as Manmohan Singh spoke under an overcast sky.
As if in cue, the clouds poured once Manmohan Singh ended his speech.