The BJP-led NDA government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has completed three years in power on May 26. The Modi government came to power riding high on the aspirations and expectations of people, who waited for ‚Äėache din‚Äô ‚ÄĒ the slogan which propelled the BJP to become the first political party in 30 years to win a majority on its own in the Lok Sabha.
Three years down the line, the Modi government faces serious challenges even as the BJP has been on an election winning spree. Undoubtedly, a majority of Indians still have faith in the Modi government; nevertheless, there are subtle signs of desperation among the people in view of unfulfilled vast array of promises made the present dispensation. The Modi government during these years launched a raft of new schemes, championed old ones or silently embraced those it was once critical of.
These schemes were camouflaged under pithy slogans and when came to the matter of accountability of implementing them, subterfuge was sought by saying that it was a ‚Äėjumble.‚Äô Performance of the Modi government during the past three years can be judged in the realms of economy, national security, and bonanza for the BJP, social services and foreign policy.
Issue of farmers‚Äô plight in the wake of increasing incident of suicides by the farmers has been rocking the nation for over a decade. Instead of providing immediate relief to the farmers in terms of loan waivers and cash incentives in case of loss of crops, the government came out with long-term proposals like crop insurance, higher funding for
irrigation, double farm incomes in real terms by 2022 and marketing reforms to create a ‚Äúone nation, one market‚ÄĚ in agriculture. Resultant outcome has been in terms of no improvement in their miserable plight, farm incomes have been dented in view of decline in wholesale prices and loan waiver schemes have yet to take off in many states.
Undoubtedly, Modi government has succeeded in getting states on board to introduce economic reforms, especially the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST), crackdown on black money and ease of doing business in the country; nonetheless, the growth story is not satisfactory and experts call it a ‚Äėjobless growth.‚Äô On the flip side of it, small and medium enterprises were hit by demonetization drive; pending cases of retrospective taxation on
past transactions still remain unresolved and even after three years the government has been unable to bring back black money stashed away abroad by citizens.
Official statistical numbers do not commensurate with the tall claims made by the ministers. GDP growth is still in the 7 percent range. Many experts feel that there is a modicum of opacity on the employment scene. There have been more stories of right sizing than employment in most sectors with even the government and public sector companies going slow on job creation. This is a worry because growth without employment is not good for a country which prides itself on a demographic dividend.
Even after subscribing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Agreement on Climate Change, this dispensation has not come out with a national policy that integrates the objectives of these international agreements. Despite having unlocked 42,000 crore for afforestation, there has been neglect of the forest and wildlife sectors. Decisions are pending on a national forest policy, definition of forests, inviolate forest areas and a national wildlife action plan. Civil society activists allege that the government is favouring industries and indiscriminately giving green clearances, ignoring the toll taken on the environment. Plight of River Ganga is rather worsening and Ganga clean-up is yet to gather momentum.
Bonanza for BJP
Biggest beneficiary of the Modi government‚Äôs rule has been the BJP. Having formed governments in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in 2013, BJP has formed governments on its own in four states for the first time ‚ÄĒ Maharashtra (2014), Haryana (2014), Assam (2016) and Manipur (2017) ‚ÄĒ and joined hands with the PDP to form its first coalition government in Jammu & Kashmir. It also came back to power in UP, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Goa. Even as its winning streak was reflected in rural and urban local body elections, from tribal Odisha to urbane Maharashtra and Chandigarh, the BJP had to suffer electoral humiliation in 2015 assembly elections of Delhi and Bihar. This was partially avenged in Delhi with a comprehensive victory over the Aam Admi Party in the municipal election.
At the perception level, policy calls such as the surgical strike and demonetization saw Modi continually reinforce the image of a decisive and audacious leader running a pro-poor government. While many experts and rivals ranged against him over demonetization, results of assembly elections barely months after the move proved the public at large was with the PM. The absence of even a whiff of big-ticket corruption underlined the contrast with the previous regime. Meanwhile, the opposition lurched from one issue to another ‚ÄĒ ghar wapsi, award wapsi, land acquisition bill, demonetizationand now the presidential election ‚ÄĒ in a so-far-futile bid to pose a united challenge. At the policy level, the government suffered a massive setback when it was forced to retrace its steps on land acquisition legislation early on, and its attempts to reform appointments in higher judiciary were struck down by the Supreme Court.
Present dispensation has been high on rhetoric on social issues and low on delivery. High rhetoric is visible in graded autonomy to promote quality in education and social security measures for the benefit of the working class; nonetheless, there is lack of ‚Äėwalk the talk, on women‚Äôs reservation bill which is still pending, new education policy is yet to be formulated and even job creation is yet to pick up.
Social ambience during these past three years witnessed the emergence of hyper-nationalism. There has been increase in social media trolling and rise of vigilante groups with little regard for human life. This period has also witnessed rise of vigilante groups with political agendas who attacked minoritiesand in spite of stricter laws, greater awareness and even campaigns, violence against women has continued unabated.
In the realm of foreign policy, Modi government has to tread the path very cautiously in view of the growing Pakistan-China nexus against India. Undoubtedly, India‚Äôs recent moves of skipping the much-hyped ‚ÄėBelt & Road Forum‚Äô+ (BRF) in Beijing and its objections to OBOR and CPEC+ (China-Pakistan economic corridor) on the basis of sovereignty may be interpreted as bold diplomatic initiatives; nevertheless, India is bringing China and Pakistan more closer against its geopolitical and geo-economic interests in the region.
India‚Äôs bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers‚Äô Group and its quest for gaining permanent seat in the UN Security Council are likely to be blocked by China in ensuing period and Beijing will pit Pakistan against India to keep the latter bogged down with it. Under the given situation, India can ill-afford to have direct confrontation either with Beijing or Islamabad and the best option is to utilize the diplomatic channel to confront them while safeguarding its own national and security interests.
Frequent incidents of terrorist attacks in J&K despite surgical strikes carried out across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, and recurring incidents of Maoists‚Äô attacks in the Red Corridor reflect on country‚Äôs national security. This points toward strategy-deficit to pre-empt rebel attacks on security personnel in districts where Maoists are active. Central government needs to take affected state governments on board to work out a comprehensive national strategy to deal Naxal and Maoist violence as well as home-grown terrorism.
Weak opposition, statistical jugglery, propaganda blitzkrieg and social media hype may keep Modi bhakats and the BJP sympathizers in good humour; the present dispensation will have to walk the talk and strong on delivery and low on rhetoric. It has already given the nation a plethora of slogans and schemes and now the time has come to put a stop to new slogans and implement what has already been promised.
The author is Executive Editor of News24 and views expressed are his own