As farmers’ suicide continue unabated, jobless growth, fear of losing existing jobs and excessive Hindutva vigilante continue the Modi government is once again in celebratory mood to create a new vision of India everyone believes.
The National Media Centre in New Delhi these days are packed with press conferences addressed by one or the other minister from the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet. Their address to journalists are packed well with power point presentations, well documented glossy survey books with “facts, figures, data and statistics” to highlight three year achievements of government under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi in respective ministries.
This is followed by ministers’ claims in superlatives – the first or best effort undertaken since India became independent 70 years ago. The question and answers session too moves in same gusto!
Nationwide celebrations will be kicked off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a public rally in Guwahati on Friday while the party president Amit Shah is expected to hold a press conference in the national capital to talk about the various programmes of the government.
The ruling party has prepared a 20-day-long mega event titled ‘Making of Developed India (MODI) Fest’, a carnival to celebrate the Centre’s achievements and broadcast Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Garibon ke massiha” (Messiah of the poor) image. Over 450 BJP leaders, including the Union Ministers, Chief Ministers and Ministers of BJP-ruled States, top office-bearers of the party will visit 900 cities between May 26 and June 15.
It is not mere celebrations alone. It is an effort to strengthen political narrative that there is no alternative to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his grand vision of achieving an egalitarian society and making India a super power. Remember only two years are left for the next General Elections in 2019.
Three years ago, on May 16, 2014 the 810 million strong electorate had put their stamp of approval on Modi becoming the Prime Minister with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) winning 336 seats in Lok Sabha or the lower house of the Parliament.
This is the highest number of seats won by any party on its own since the 1984 Lok Sabha elections, when the Congress, led by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi won in a landslide victory.
Since then Modi and his men have undertaken historical rectification by decimate Congress rule in states. Even in the recently concluded assembly elections in five states, Modi managed to win majority in four states.
Political observers believe, like Indira Gandhi, Modi too has become the boldest prime minister India has ever known. But there is a difference. Unlike his predecessors and their cabinet, Modi or his ministers have not been found tainted or involved in corruption so far.
These two achievements are in itself raison d’être for their celebrations as the UPA government under Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was marked by scandals, scams, policy and administrative paralysis.
As people’s patriot, Modi has engaged with people directly through rallies or radio talks touching on sensitive issues that has won him many bouquets. Common people thoroughly believe his humble origins as ‘tea seller’. They believe the messiah despite the hardship they faced on account of his demonetisation decision on November 8, 2016. Modi successfully changed the narrative that the move was aimed against black-marketers and corrupt.
Remember when he entered Parliament for the first time, Modi knelt down and touched his forehead on the steps of Parliament.
The way he has addressed issues such as VIP culture, cleanliness and patriotism have touched the people’s hearts.
On the economic front India’s growth story on an average has been over 7 pc, beat down the inflation from 8.33 to 2.99 pc and attracted USD 149 billion (until December 2016) worth of investment from overseas companies.
India is soon set to implement the Goods and Service Tax (GST), the boldest economic reforms since India became independent. It is set to dramatically reshape Asia’s third-largest economy and is likely to raise government revenues by widening the tax net in the country’s largely informal USD 2 trillion economy. That means India could spend more on desperately needed infrastructure and training programmes for a workforce that is growing by one million people each month, laying the groundwork for longer-term growth.
What has not gone in favour of the prime minister is his silence against the excessive vigilantism by Hindutva brigade on cattle smuggling, beef-eating or anti-Romeo squad.
Another case in point is India found itself three ranks lower in the latest World Press Freedom Index report released by media watchdog Reporters Sans Frontières released in April. “With Hindu nationalists trying to purge all manifestations of anti-national thought from the national debate, self-censorship is growing in the mainstream media. Journalists are increasingly the targets of online smear campaigns by the most radical nationalists, who vilify them and even threaten physical reprisals,” the report said.
In the absence of effective strategy by opposition parties Modi may once again ride high in 2019 General Elections.
No doubt perception-wise, the government has scored. It is seen as a government in action.
What we need to look at is how the government has performed. Were its achievements qualitative? Is it well on its way to fulfilling the BJP’s pre-election promises in the next two years?
The areas where its action has not been so effective include employment creation and entrepreneurship development.
Questions are being raised where are the twenty million new jobs the ruling party promised to generate every year as part of the Aacche Din (Good Times) package. On the other hand, thousands of people are losing their existing jobs.
Worse, even the government statistics acknowledge that over 12,000 farmers committed suicide every year since 2014 due to debt burden and the government’s anti-farmer policies. One wonders whether this is a celebration of failure.
No doubt no other politician in any democracy in the world or even dictators has displayed an uncanny knack of reinventing himself to adapt to emerging politics and create a magical illusion that people want to believe in.