NEW DELHI, Sept 17:
The Opposition parties must be constructively adversarial to the Government, articulate cogent alternative policies and have the numbers to present voters with a real option, says a new book which assesses Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s achievements since 2014.
In “Modi: The Challenge of 2024 – The Battle for India”, author Minhaz Merchant draws on his meetings with Modi since 2012 to decode the prime minister’s thinking on economic reforms, geopolitics, secularism and democracy ahead of what could be a historic 2024 Lok Sabha election.
The book, published by Amaryllis, also examines whether the Opposition’s strategy to present a united front can derail the BJP’s juggernaut.
Merchant insists this book is not a biography of Modi.
“It focuses on Modi’s first two five-year terms as prime minister. After almost a decade in power, how successful has Modi been in reforming the economy? Is his foreign policy in an increasingly complex world establishing India as a major global power?” he says.
Summing up Modi’s Prime Ministership, Merchant writes, “Over the past nine years, Modi has evolved from a state leader to a national leader to a deified leader and finally to a world leader. In doing so, Modi has used Vajpayee’s playbook: hard Hindutva warrior during elections; pro-poor messiah at home; and sober global statesman abroad.
“Thus we see Modi’s fiery version in election campaign rallies. That is followed by a messianic touch: providing free food and subsidies to 80 crore distressed Indians. And finally, a statesmanlike role in global affairs as leader of the G20.”
According to the author, the 2024 Lok Sabha election could determine the course of Indian politics for the next decade.
“With India set to be the world’s third largest economy by 2026-27 behind the United States and China, 2024 could prove an historic turning point,” he says. If Modi secures a third term as Prime Minister, he will be the first Indian leader since Jawaharlal Nehru to win three successive five-year prime ministerial terms, the book says.
The Opposition knows that possibly the only way to stop Modi is to present a united front against him in 2024, it says.
“With several claimants from the Opposition for Prime Ministership in 2024, Modi will seek to remain above the fray, watching Opposition leaders undermine one another,” it says.
“Sharad Pawar, Uddhav Thackeray and MK Stalin had made it clear that there could be no combined Opposition front without the Congress. But can Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi work together in INDIA? Can Mamata and Rahul, who till recently could barely stand the sight of each other, bury their differences to challenge Modi’s BJP?” the author asks.
He suggests that the Opposition must fulfil three criteria.
“One, it should be constructively adversarial to the Government, not merely disruptive. Two, it must articulate cogent alternative policies to those the Government is currently pursuing. And three, it must have the numbers to present voters with a real alternative at the next general election,” he writes.
Merchant also emphasises that a pressing issue for Modi is the need to build a strong second line of leadership for the future.
“Home Minister Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma are seen as forming a core inner leadership in a third-term Modi prime ministership backed by a technocratic cabinet team including External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and others,” he writes. (PTI)
NEW DELHI, Sept 17: