These are best of the times for Modi-led BJP. It couldn’t have been worse for other parties. BJP have won most of the elections in 2017 – whether State Assembly, Municipal Corporations or Panchayat.
If March elections gave 4 out of 5 states to BJP including a landslide win in India’s most populous state of UP, winning Delhi MCD polls in April was sweet revenge for its humiliating loss in February, 2015. UP’s victory was both spectacular and unprecedented with BJP & allies notching up 325 out of 403 seats. Party President Amit Shah and other leaders meticulously prepared the ground and PM Modi led from the front to score a historic victory. These elections have re-established him as the only pan-India leader in the entire country. Like Amitabh Bachchan of 70s & 80s in Bollywood, Modi is one-man army in the Indian political arena at the moment and has virtually no competition in sight. He’s earned this tag the hard way – on the sheer strength of his peerless qualities of clear vision, personal integrity, indefatigable zeal and proclivity to reach the common man on a regular basis. He inspires confidence among his team and masses by not flinching from taking bold decisions e.g. Surgical strikes, Demonetisation and ban on red beacons for VIPs. Modi is in total command as can be surmised by his exhortations to party MPs to “take credit” for all the good work that the Govt has done, instead of giving the entire credit to him.
Swift and Steady: Modi Govt which would be completing 3 years shortly has made tremendous stride in benefiting common man through a slew of meaningful schemes like Jan Dhan, Ujjwala, Mudra Bank, Swachh Bharat, Digital India, Smart cities to name a few. While some of these schemes (Ujjwala) have done exceedingly well, others like Swachh Bharat leave much to be desired. But saplings of some of the social welfare ‘trees’ planted during last 3 years are already bearing fruits to poor, disadvantaged and vulnerable section of Indian society and would, in next 2 years, become much stronger trees. The number of beneficiaries may rise to over 600 million by 2019 under various schemes/projects. Prediction of good monsoon, record food production, low inflation and expected seamless implementation of GST are likely to play a vital role in keeping GDP above 7% but there are still many challenges particularly sluggish industrial growth and paucity of new jobs which need to be addressed on a priority basis. No one expects that all the nearly 50 schemes launched since 2014 can be finished by 2019 but it may be possible to complete the following landmark projects in the next 2 years:
- A patrol-free, multi-layered, smart fence along India’s border with Pakistan and Bangladesh
- Transforming at least 10 cities including Varanasi into Smart Cities
- Perceptible progress in Clean Ganga project in the states of UP and Uttarakhand
- Sagarmala project which aims to provide infrastructure to transport goods to and from ports quickly and cheaply
Corruption and Crime: Na Khaunga, Na Khane Dunga (Corruption), Na Baithunga, Na Baithne Dunga (Hard work) and Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas (Inclusive development) are the main guiding principles for Modi Government. Of these, the most vital would be eradication of corruption. It’s gratifying to note that Modi Govt remains spotlessly clean and there have been no stigma of scams, unlike its predecessor. But the situation for millions of lesser mortals remains unchanged. They still have to grease the palms of brazenly corrupt officials in notorious departments like PWD, Municipal corporations, RTO, RCS, Panchayat samiti, Police, Revenue, Education and Health etc. Unless these dens of graft are cleansed, the common man will continue to suffer. Doing so would be as arduous as cleaning our rivers or protecting our forests but a combination of strong political will, honest officials and high-level technology can make a difference. However, the biggest challenge would be to catch and prosecute the high-profile corrupt ‘politicians’ infamous for their ‘rags to riches’ stories having wallowed in muddy waters of divisive vote bank politics for decades, Crackdown on Benami properties, money-laundering, round tripping and Shell companies should be done on a war footing to nab these ‘parasites’. There is huge expectations that a strong and incorruptible leader like Modi will do this sooner rather than later. It’s time to unleash Benami bomb on usurpers of public money. It so happens that a majority of Modi’s virulent critics, directly or indirectly, are involved in various scams and ponzi schemes and their adequate punishment under the law of the land will bring huge political dividends to him and BJP.
What is required is setting up of high-level fast-track courts to handle such cases. All the premier investigating agencies should be tasked to assist these courts in order to obtain concrete results within a time-frame of 12 to 18 months. A bunch of casteist, communal, corrupt and criminal politicians should not be allowed to prevent creation of a ‘New India’ in which only hard working, honest, law-abiding and nationalist citizens would flourish. Crime is an emanation of corruption and corrupt politicians need pliable bureaucrats and dreaded criminals to conduct their nefarious activities. Thus, a symbiotic relationship formed by politicians, police and criminals are at the root of all major scams.
Time is running out for self-appointed secular parties whose leaders have deceived the gullible masses in the name of caste and religion. Modi’s solid work in 3 years and his benign intention and steely resolve to improve the lives of poor, women and middle class should worry the family-fixated politicians as much as crude practitioners of vote bank politics or ‘fly- by- night’ parties like AAP. The main opposition party will continue to shrink in coming months and prescient Congressmen will jump ship to join BJP. Right now, Modi is monarch of all he surveys and Omar Abdullah’s words “we might as well forget 2019 and start planning/hoping for 2024″ may turn out prophetic.
Yogi in UP: If Yogi has been handpicked for the tough job in UP, it could be part of a well-thought out strategy for 2019. He’s young, honest and hardworking and like Modi has no family encumbrance. He may lack administrative experience but will learn very fast on the job. Besides, he has a good team and will be constantly guided and monitored by PM and other central leaders. One of the reasons to place Yogi in the hot seat could be to send a strong message to people of India. The message – if a humongous state like UP with over 220 million people, misgoverned and plundered by corrupt and criminals in last 15 years like never before can be transformed by BJP Govt into a ‘normal’ functioning state within 2 years from now, the party would merit another chance in 2019 with even bigger majority. In short, UP can be a template for ‘Good Governance’. All eyes will be on Yogi now. To his credit, he has got off to a promising start.
(The author is a former diplomat and NewsMobile iJourno)