Saturday, March 25th, 2023 22:19:54

NaMo Again…

Updated: December 22, 2012 1:09 pm

Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat and the brightest star of Bharatiya Janata Party, issued the party manifesto last week. In pursuit of his government’s emphasis on development for all so that the benefits of Gujarat’s stupendous economic growth reach the largest possible number of the common man, the manifesto for the Assembly election promises to take the Gujarat story’ to a new level of achievements. Modi has described the manifesto as a blueprint for development of all sections of society. The manifesto focuses on meeting the challenges of urban and rural housing, water, irrigation and agriculture. It is noteworthy that Modi has kept away from offering sops and freebies that have unfortunately become the norm for most political parties that are in the electoral fray. From computers to jewellery to quota in Government employment, parties have been luring the voters with all sorts of dazzling offers. Not only are such promises generally difficult to keep because they simply cannot be implemented, but that many of them are divisive in nature because they extend benefits to certain sections of society to the exclusion of the others on the basis of caste and religion. Aspirational India has a missing link: There is a gulf that separates those who have emerged from poverty and the middle-classes. Displaying his foresight, Modi has devised plans to bridge this gulf. He has promised to define a new category of “neo-middle class” and said his government would form various schemes to benefit this class which “needs a helping hand”. In Gujarat, promises push for neo-middle class that has evolved in the state in the past 10 years and most of its votes in the Assembly elections will come from urban residents and the youth, Modi has offered a slew of promises to these segments in the party’s manifesto. So his party’s manifesto is not a bunch of election-eve announcements but a commitment. It is worth mentioning that a neo-middle class has evolved in the state during the past 10 years, which just needs a little push to grow to exponential levels and to tap this Modi would set up a special committee to identify this neo-middle class and work out special schemes for its all-round growth. Modi said his government would come up with a special youth policy aimed not only at “developing youth but at harnessing a youth-led development.” To facilitate development of skills in a big way, the government would set up a skill development corporation and skill Development University, a promise, if carried through, will make Gujarat the only state to boast of such services. He promised to set up a network of hostels in urban areas for 40,000 students of higher education students, and launch a scholarship scheme for those pursuing higher education and one to generate jobs for over 30 lakh youths. Among other things, Mr. Modi said, his government would act as a guarantor for youths seeking loans for self-employment.

It is noteworthy that Gujarat’s urban population has grown rapidly to reach 43 per cent, surpassing even the national average of 32 per cent. This development has taken a toll on the rural masses and put unprecedented pressure on the social and physical infrastructure of the cities. But the manifesto is largely silent on this aspect. Though the manifesto, like the BJP’s list of candidates, has no promise for the minorities, Mr. Modi said the document was sarva-sparshi, sarva-vyapi, sarva-samaveshiya and sarva-priya (all-inclusive). Even Mr Modi’s worst critics will concede, albeit grudgingly, that he has managed to fulfill many of the promises that he has made in the past. He rolled off his accomplishments: modern roads, private railroads with double-decker containers, 50,000 kilometers of fiber-optic networks, 2,200 kilometers of gas pipelines, 1,400 kilometers of drinking-water pipelines to 7,000 villages, 24-hour uninterrupted power in rural areas, the first Indian state with private ports, a totally integrated coastal-development plan, two LNG [liquefied natural gas] terminals and two new ones coming on line. Even during his regime, the attacks by the Islamic fanatics have plummeted considerably. Statistics and lists seemed to have a spellbinding effect on him. He quantified everything. Yet both the Congress and the BJP vie with each other in offering sops to the voters to capture power. Once they do, they forget the citizens and go their own way to line their pockets with wealth by corruptive means. Modi may not indulge in corruption but he will become unpopular by his harsh behaviour and attitude once he captures power. Every party promises milk and honey but, ultimately, the citizens end up getting contaminated water. One hopes the people of Gujarat see total sincerity, honesty and above all intelligence in this document.

Deepak Kumar Rath

Deepak Kumar Rath

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