Raise the benchmark, PM

Those who run out of arguments to prove that staccato of supposedly game changing schemes fired by the Modi government with much fanfare have been a resounding success take a recourse in prime minister’s unblemished integrity and his righteous intention of making a new India.

Having heart in the place of logic is similar to the mind of a teacher who is tempted to give marks purely on beautiful hand- writing of the student who has   answered all the questions wrong.

The Modi government deserves full marks for packaging and selling the schemes, but the net result on the ground has clearly has not matched (as per various reports countering government’s claims) what was sold to the people.

The ever-expanding gap between the tall promises and the delivery is beginning to haunt the Modi government, which will seek re-election in year and a half from now.

Never before in the last three years the government and its functionaries have been caught in the crease with jammed footwork like they have in the last six months. Even the gifted hand-eye combination will not take them beyond the ropes all the time.

From March to October this year, the narrative has dramatically changed for the ruling party. From the super success in Uttar Pradesh elections to the jolt of economic slowdown, the wheel of fortune seem to have spun full circle within a short span.

The assault from various quarters, most notable BJP’s own Yashwant Sinha, on the handling of economy was so strong that for the first time Modi had to come out in his own defence instead of letting his cabinet colleagues to handle the ordinance.

Modi took on those spreading pessimism in the name of criticism and expectedly went out of the way to prove that he was better than his predecessor. Keeping a failed opponent as benchmark of success is inherently flawed. People did not vote the BJP for doing better than the UPA.

 Modi’s appeal was his promise of bringing exponential transformation, a change for betterment. Such was his charm and conviction that people rallied behind him despite the potentially destructive move to demonetise high value currency. He reaped the electoral benefit of note ban before the futility of the exercise was bared before the public first by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its demonetisation data and then the former governor Raghuram Rajan.

Before Atal Bihari Vajoayee’s finance minister Yashwant Sinha spoke up on the way economy was being handled, BJP’s Subramanian Swamy had pressed the alarm bells by warning that the financial situation of the country was in tailspin.

The Congress was thrilled by the full toss thrown at it but it still takes skills to put it beyond the fence.

Those who are in a hurry to write the epitaph of the Modi government should hold their pens. Even his worst critic would agree that the man rises when he is pushed to the wall. He became prime minister with thumping majority against all odds. He has not only silenced competitors within his own party but also ripped apart opponents.

Just when people started losing patience awaiting better days, the narrative was changed to realising  Modi’s dream of new India. The deadline for this programme is 2022, much beyond 2019 when the next elections would be held.

An astute politician, the PM will not repeat the mistakes committed by Vajpayee who lost the measure of public mind in the glitter of India Shining campaign.

The measure of unrest among the people is elections and so far Modi has proved his critics wrong. Barring Delhi, Bihar and Punjab, he has spread BJP’s hold across the country.

Whether the ongoing crisis will make any dent in BJP’s electoral fortune is too early to call. Year and a half is a lifetime in politics but the time span is not enough to turn around economy. Chunks might have appeared in his armour but it remains to be seen if he repairs or changes his regalia.

In either case, the opposition will have to work out a counter narrative instead of attacking him upfront. The attack on Modi’s most trusted lieutenant Amit Shah is the closest opposition has come to damage the prime minister.

The reaction to the controversy over fortunes of a company belonging to Shah’s son Jay Amitbhai Shah has come in the form of a defamation suit against the website that broke the story. But people are closely watching the way the government is dealing with the allegation. The BJP has fired several such arrows at the opponents which got support from the masses.
(gautam.datt@mydigitalfc.com)

Columnist: 
Gautam Gupta