Many political commentators viewed the 2014 election results, where BJP on its own secured a majority for the first time, as an aberration which wasn’t going to be repeated again – or more correctly, a black swan event. However, all these theories were proven wrong when Indian voters elected Modi again in 2019 with a thumping majority more than that of 2014.
Politically speaking, the results of 2019 confirmed the change of the pole of country’s politics which had been dominated for decades by the grand old Congress party. Now, BJP is the centre of Indian politics. This can be witnessed from the 2019 elections, where BJP emerged more as a stronger party by securing 37 per cent votes in comparison to 31 per cent it received in 2014. The saffron party led NDA combination fetched a whopping 45 per cent votes more than its 37 per cent share in 2014. Once upon a time, Congress also used to fetch 40 per cent+ vote share during its heydays under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.
True that BJP has been tremendously successful in the last 6 years politically but this can’t be said when it comes to governance. There have been many successes and failures.
One of the criteria that the BJP government failed in the last six years is to effectively communicate with the people on policies in time. The result is that often it is seen that any big policies of the Government comes with confusions – enough for the opposition to create controversies. Opposition parties also have their own share of blame but why only blame them when they are provided fodder by the Government’s ineffective and delayed communication?
This has been witnessed when the Citizenship Amendment Bill, now Citizenship Amendment Act, was passed in the parliament. Had the Government done its homework properly, the protests wouldn’t have intensified to a greater extent. The government made a huge mistake by including Assam in the CAA despite knowing the fact that when it comes to citizenship, the state has some specific criteria, quite different from other states. Not to forget, it was Assam where the initial violent protests took place.
Not only this, the Modi Government also seems to be suffering from policy paralysis. This can be witnessed on the Kashmir issue. Agree that the BJP Government kept its promise to remove Article 370 but at the same time, it is also true that the dispensation doesn’t seem to have a clear strategy to deal with the post-Article 370 situation in the valley. This incompetency of the Government can be witnessed in the present crisis too. Agree that the second package was not a bad one, as some critics are saying, but also true is that the Government has been quite late in announcing the measures for the migrants. Also, the dispensation hasn’t yet announced an increase in the amount of payments to be given to the needy section. The present payments are too meagre.
Another major cause of embarrassment for this government during this period are the nonsensical comments often aired by the BJP MPs and ministers. As a result, opposition gets a chance to create controversies – and puts the government on the backfoot. And, if such worthless comments come during parliament sessions, it creates more problems for the government. The opposition creates ruckus on it and forces the Government to intervene and to pour cold water on the issue. In doing so, the dispensation had to abandon important business proceedings of the day. It is not that they aren’t warned by the BJP. Often these leaders are cautioned. Modi himself had asked his fellow party MPs not to get excited by seeing cameras and be cautious with the words they utter to the press members but despite all of this, they manage to humiliate their own government. This also points that BJP has to be more strict – if it wants its own Government to be away from these useless controversies.
However, the biggest challenge before the Modi government is the rising unemployment in the country. And the Corona pandemic, only has escalated this burning issue. Economists across the world are predicting rising unemployment across the world – and India may be the worst hit, as it has been facing the issue much before the beginning of this pandemic. Also, there have been valid complaints against this government for being slow when it comes to reforms. Recently the Government went for much needed reforms in the agricultural sector – although late but came right.
On the other side, it is also true that the Modi government has been tremendously successful in rural outreach through the various welfare schemes than the Congress led UPA regime. One of the biggest achievements is the distribution of free 8 crore gas cylinders to the poor women through the Ujjwala Yojana, which started in 2016. Amid this Corona pandemic, the Government has already provided 6.9 crores free cooking gas cylinders during April to mid-May. The target is to provide 24 crores of cylinders – 3 each for 8 crore beneficiaries of the Yojana.
Not only this, during the last four years, the poor also got subsidised money for refillings of the gas cylinders directly through their bank accounts – thanks to the Jan Dhan scheme. Due to this scheme, more than 30 crore bank accounts were opened by the Modi Government. Many among those poor people opened accounts in banks for the first time. This is part of the Direct Bank Transfer, a scheme launched by the Congress led UPA dispensation but was popularised only by the Modi Government. This along with Aadhar, another UPA child, popularised by the Modi Government strengthens the delivery of government welfare schemes. All these have helped it to disperse the cash benefits of the pro-poor policies directly to the hands of the poor people – who get the money without any leakages of the payment and without much delays. At the present pandemic, these schemes are also playing their roles.
The other remarkable scheme is the Ayushman Bharat, the largest healthcare programme in the world, which already has provided free treatment to 1 crore people. It provides free treatment with an insurance scheme Rs 5 lakh per family to the poor section who can’t afford such a huge amount of money. Not only this, during this period of six years, the Government has allocated more money than UPA for MGNREGA, a flag-ship scheme of UPA-1+Left Front. In the current pandemic too, the Government is relying on this scheme by increasing its wages and allocating more funds.
Another successful scheme is the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan through which the government has built over 10 crore toilets in the country since 2014. Also, the poor have been receiving subsidised medicines through the Pradhanmantri Jan Aushadhi scheme.
True that there are many challenges that lie before the Modi Government – more escalated by this sudden Corona pandemic. To address these, the dispensation has to learn from its previous mistakes. Also, policies of the Modi Government 1.0 can come handy in this crisis – only if Modi 2.0 implements it by doing proper homework, that too in time. (IPA)