Thursday, 2 April 2020

Modi Testing The Patience Of His Critics

Updated: December 20, 2014 11:30 am

Winter Session is on and the Congress was crying foul to spot the PM in the Parliament so as to prove itself as a mighty Opposition. PM obliged the Upper House and expressed his unhappiness on one of his ministers Niranjan Jyoti’s unparliamentary language and urged the House to continue the business of the House, as his minister had already asked for an excuse. The Opposition was frequently criticising that the PM had spared more time in Parliament of foreign countries than in India. This exposes their frustration, as the PM earned much more political miles than other PMs in recent years. In summing up the performance of the Modi government, as it completes six months in office, the jury is still out. There is no clear cut verdict on the first six months of Narendra Modi government. When he went to the polls, there were cries of change, a demand for a leader to steer the nation, absolute dissatisfaction with the UPA. Six months are too short a period to judge a government.

As a personality, Modi was radically different from his predecessor and he made the biggest political promise of all time, i.e. delivering ‘Acche Din’. It was an explosive proposition. Two words that signified the aspirations of the billion plus Indians. More than anything else, ‘Acche Din’ signified a rekindled hope in the aam aadmi that tomorrow would be better than yesterday.

The very positive note of optimism and statesmanship when all the SAARC leaders attended his swearing-in ceremony was short-lived. The optimism only lasted till the Pakistani High Commissioner chose to invite the Hurriyat leaders for talks, Modi government responded by calling off the Secretary-level talks. Thus, the hope that a new chapter was about to be written by Modi vanished in thin air.

Never before has a PM been so busy travelling as Modi, that too during the first six months of office. In his first six months as India’s Prime Minister he has visited eight countries and hosted leaders from nine. The inter-continental globetrotting has seen him go to Nepal, Burma, Bhutan, Brazil, Japan, USA, Australia and Fiji.

However, on the domestic front, the Modi government seems to be testing the patience of its critics. They point out that even though the BJP government has been lucky in the matter of oil prices yet it has not been able to derive full advantage from the savings accrued in foreign exchange as a result of this. The advantage has not affected the balance of payments since this period has seen corresponding rise in the import of gold.

The six months of Modi’s tenure may be a cause of disappointment for many. For the corporate sector, for instance, the absence of “big ticket” reforms is bound to detract from the Prime Minister’s go-getter image. Corporate India was in the forefront of the cheerleaders of Modi during the run up to elections. Never before in the history of this country had the industry joined in a chorus for rooting a political party so openly.

At another level, the doomsday soothsayers are still waiting for their moment even as there is all quiet on the communal front except for a few localised clashes on the outskirts of Delhi and the burning of a church. But then it would be foolhardy to expect such clashes to happen immediately after the first BJP government assumed office.

That the country is advancing even in the economic sector is however evident from the projection of a 6.3 per cent growth rate next year by Morgan Stanley. The BJP has extended its victory march to two more states. But Modi has to guard against the Sangh Parivar dropping restraint under his watch.

On the flip side, Modi now has 25 million fans on Facebook and eight million followers on Twitter. His frequent tweets and Facebook posts, handled by his hand-picked OSDs have given him a persona that no other Indian PM had so far. His radio show, <Man Ki Baat>, also showcases the PM’s oratory. Even though the Vajpayee-led NDA was an alliance government, it took some astonishingly bold and radical steps. Modi’s NDA is only nominally an alliance, yet he is very cautious. The answer to this paradox lies possibly in the way Modi explains the way he works. “I am a small man, who believes in doing small things,” he said.

Modi-led NDA has taken a series of administrative measures including opening up FDI in Railways, deregulating fuel and announcing mega missions like ‘Make in India’. The ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’ is trying to bring in a sense of national conscientiousness about the lack of hygiene in the country. Bank accounts have been opened for the poor to assist them in managing their savings under the Jan Dhana Yojana.

Six months may be too short a time period to expect a complete overhaul of the ‘system’ but 180 days are a good enough time frame to gauge the intent of the new dispensation. And, the basics, as of now, suggest, Modi has at least managed to remove inertia in governance.

Deepak Kumar Rath

Deepak Kumar Rath

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