Betrayal Begets Anger: Where Are The Acche Din?
We have many questions from the grassroots that the good macro statistics have not managed to answer. The electorate has been fretting for a while, but persuaded itself to give the charismatic prime minister more time. But that patience seems to have run out with the drubbing it gave the BJP in three important states in the Hindi heartland.
The poor and dispossessed in the rural areas have run away to the promises of succour from a Congress desperate to make a comeback. The urban poor in the three states and even the elite Rajputs of Rajasthan have also voted against this government. Anti-incumbency and jaded chief ministers may have played its part, but rank anger at being ignored and cheated with unfulfilled promises by Narendra Modi himself was the dominant emotion. The assembly election vote says I have stopped believing in you and you have only yourself to blame.
Nationally too, first, there are the emotive issues on which those who backed the Modi government feel utterly betrayed. Where is the pro-Hindu government, in place of a pseudo-secular minority favouring dispensation, ask a phalanx of Hindu Nationalists, the poor and the youth? This, even as Modi has found time and inclination to execute some initiatives to help Muslim women.
And why is the Kashmir Valley allowed to get away with its sedition, terrorism, murder and mayhem, while the government does nothing? It even allows the Army and Police in J&K to be censured! What about abolishing Article 370 and 35A to bring J&K into the Indian mainstream?
And if this government with a brute majority, the best in 30 years, cannot start the temple building at Ayodhya, then who can? What makes it think it can hide behind a partisan and unsympathetic Supreme Court and its endless delaying tactics?
Why is the Modi government hitting out at the small traders with taxes and sealings, when it is they, most of all, who formed the support base of this government long before the Rath Yatra undertaken by LK Advani ? Did he throw them over in favour of the poor rural/urban masses that he has also failed to satisfy?
Why has the middle class been totally ignored? Why has the Finance Minister been allowed to ignore their aspirations in successive budgets and in-between actions like the fuel taxes?
Is this “Vikas” a mere slogan, no better than Indira Gandhi’s “Garibi Hatao”. Where are the troops of competent people from the middle class ranks who needed to be inducted to make this government run well? Why has the bureaucracy not been licked into shape to deliver fast and efficiently?
Why are BJP media spokespersons, almost always sub-standard?? They are unable to portray the achievements of the government in a favourable light.
How do the dozens of seriously corrupt people from the erstwhile UPA government era manage to cock-a-snook at this government? Why is Narendra Modi so timid about sending them to jail? And how did so many fugitive businessmen manage to run away abroad under this government’s watch?
The writing has been on the wall for some time. If a down and out Congress has benefited from all this, it is largely the BJP government and the party’s own fault.
Incumbency riddled Gujarat was won with difficulty, and yes, a Left enclave fell in with Tripura. But after that, there have been no more wins, not even municipal elections and a variety of bye-elections.
Karnataka was narrowly lost, and then the BJP failed to secure a government there, perhaps due to its own hubris. Congress stole a march from under its nose and formed the government there.
And now, there may be jubilation amongst those who dislike Modi, the BJP and the Sangh Parivar, but there is sorrow in the hearts of Modi’s supporters. And this, not for the defeats themselves, humiliating as they are, but because it is true that this government has failed to deliver much by way of the promised Acche Din. It has become difficult to defend a non-performance.
The macro figures, though disputed by the Opposition, are good, and getting better. A fundamental thing like electricity to every village if not yet to every home has been accomplished at last. Cooking gas, both subsidized for the poor, and at full price to others, has indeed penetrated its way to 90% of households.
There are a plethora of yojanas aimed at the urban and rural poor that claim to have touched their lives, and subsidies do now reach the intended recipients. There is the banking of the unbanked, Mudra small loans, and many other things, and yet the public thinks these are just small efficiencies, and not the big expectations it had from Modi.
No incomes have gone up to speak of. There is no boom to be seen anywhere, property prices are depressed. There has been little creation of new jobs, or livelihoods for that matter. At least, none in proportion to the demand.
The taxation however, has increased substantially, either in actual terms, or because the net is wider now, ubiquitous, and better enforced.
The infrastructure development, always a BJP strength, will no doubt better lives in the long run, but accomplishes little for the people here and now.
The Opposition, particularly Rahul Gandhi, has got away with virulent criticism and outright lies, mainly because there is no one effective to counter him. The prime minister refuses to do so on a day-to-day basis, and no one else is tasked to do so either. Congress, on its part, has several articulate former ministers, mostly top flight lawyers, defending their first family and other seniors all the time.
It is surprising that not one prosecution worth the name has resulted in any of the corrupt from Congress actually being installed in jail. So much so, that the Congress is able to openly threaten the officials of the ED and CBI to beware of retribution when they return to power.
While the litany of woes resulting from ineffective governance, promises not kept, awkwardness and timidity, is long, the time has come to recognize that the BJP is in serious danger of being voted out of power altogether in 2019. If it doesn’t altogether lose, it is almost certain to be considerably weakened.
What therefore can it do in the remaining months before the Code of Conduct puts an end to any new initiatives? It must grab the attention of its core voters who have perhaps been taken for granted. So much so, that they stay home on voting day in many instances. This means delivery on some of the ignored Hidutva issues - such as J&K’s status, and Ayodhya, and a renewed promise to implement a Uniform Civil Code if it is voted back to power.
It also needs to implement some economic benefits for Hindus in particular- traders, middle class, urban and rural folk- things that do not fight shy of announcing that they are not universal in nature, but specifically meant for Hindus of all castes.
It is a mistake for Narendra Modi not to put the corrupt from the UPA in jail, even if it is pre-trial detention without bail. Their supporters will, in any case, never vote for the BJP, and are busy exulting over their resurgence and comeback.
If this government chooses to carry on as if all is well and makes the mistake of thinking the recent assembly elections will not affect the general election in May 2019, they may be in for a big shock.
For: My Nation
December 12th, 2018