Lok Sabha Exit Polls 2019: Why India has voted for Modinomics
Modinomics underpinned how India needs a strong leader who can deliver stability and economic development, local in its roots, global in its vision, and going the last mile, to empower the most marginalised.
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Even as exit polls predict a clear majority for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and Narendra Modi looks set for a resounding second term, one thing that has stood out loud and clear is the fact that even by conservative estimates, the BJP is slated to better its 2014 track record and completely sweep states like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, with vote shares likely to be in the 53%-57% region.
In Haryana, as per exit poll trends, erstwhile Congress heavyweight Bhupinder Singh Hooda may lose from Sonipat — and his son's fate from Rohtak too hangs by a thread. Western India and the Hindi heartland are set to be retained by Modi, with the BJP set to win 27-29 seats from a total of 29 in Madhya Pradesh, 26 of the overall 26 in Gujarat and 23-25 of the 25 seats in Rajasthan, as per various pollsters.
Surely you're joking? Congress heavyweight Bhupinder Singh Hooda may lose from Sonipat, if exit polls are to be believed. (Source: PTI)
Even in Uttar Pradesh, despite the Mahagathbandhan, which has tried every trick in the book to shore up its dismal fortunes via some opportunistic caste arithmetic, BJP's vote share could be as high as 48%. The icing on the cake, apart from the Northeast, which has now clearly become a BJP bastion, is the huge Modi tsunami that has clearly swept across the eastern states of Odisha and West Bengal — with the BJP slated to win between 19-24 seats in Bengal, a massive gain from the two seats that the party won in 2014. It would also be a huge loss of votes and face for Mamata Banerjee, who, after winning 34 of the 42 seats in 2014, has simply gone downhill, completely losing the plot.
Even in south India, say, Karnataka, for instance, the NDA is slated to get 21-24 of the overall 28 seats — which means that the existing fractious coalition of the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) could perish sooner than later. Those who said the Modi wave is over, writing flaky oped columns from their Lutyenised confines, now have egg on their face and come May 23, may have nowhere to hide, due to sheer embarrassment.
All this begs the question — what is this Modi tsunami all about? Why has it overpowered false narratives and vicious propaganda by the left-liberal pseudo intellectuals, who wanted nothing more than Narendra Modi to be defeated?
Time to celebrate? The BJP is expected to win a clear majority across the country. (Source: Reuters)
The answer is simple — apart from the fact that the opposition had no credible alternative or any people-centric positive development agenda or the razor-sharp organisational acumen of an Amit Shah or even the ideological commitment of BJP karyakartas who sweated it out, what is equally important to note is that the exit polls are a vindication of Modinomics.
Eventually, good politics is all about good economics and that being the case, let us examine why Modinomics endeared itself to the downtrodden, the marginalised and the underprivileged.
“Don’t find fault, find a remedy,” said Henry Ford.
This quote by Ford best exemplifies the visionary, problem-solving leadership of Narendra Modi, who has chosen to find opportunities in adversities, by treading a path rarely travelled. Indeed, the strongest endorsement of Modinomics comes from CEBR’s World Economic League Table Report of 2018, which states that India will overtake Britain at $2.65 trillion, to become the fifth largest economy in the world shortly, in nominal GDP terms, after earning the enviable distinction of already having toppled France to become the sixth largest, in 2018.
Among the many firsts that the Narendra Modi-led government can proudly take credit for is the fact that today, all of India’s 5,97,464 inhabited villages are electrified; Akodara village in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat is India’s first digital village and Mawlynnong in Meghalaya is Asia’s most swachh village, thanks largely to more than 9.56 crore toilets built under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan across India on a war footing.
Bulumgavan village in the dense forests of Melghat in Maharashtra and Leisang in Manipur finally received electricity for the first time in 70 long years; Tripura came onto India’s broad gauge map for the first time only in 2016 — despite becoming a state in 1972; Manipur witnessed the commencement of construction of the 141-metre high Noney rail bridge, the highest rail bridge in India.
Undoubtedly, if there is one scheme that has revolutionalised the lives of millions of women, particularly in rural India, it is the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PUMY), launched in May 2016, initially targeting five crore connections to below poverty line (BPL) families by 2019, with the support of Rs 1,600 to each family.
By March 2019, almost seven crore connections had been given under the scheme across 715 districts — of which 48% belonged to the SC/ST categories.
The Ujjwala scheme has been widely appreciated as the Census of 2011 showed that nearly 12.1 crore households used traditional stoves (chullha) in India. Out of 27 crore households, only 13 crore had LPG connections when the BJP government took over in May 2014. After that, over 12 crore households have been added in barely four and a half years of the Modi dispensation, which is hugely commendable. Of this, well over six crore addition was through Ujjwala alone.
The fuel of hope: Ujjwala has been one of the Modi govt's greatest successes. (Source: India Today)
Based on government data, nearly 80% of Ujjwala consumers come back to the oil marketing companies for a second refill, while 45% take three or more refills in a year — over 42% beneficiaries of Ujjwala are Dalits. To promote the scheme, the government has also recently launched LPG Panchayats. PMUY vindicates the very ethos of Modinomics, which seeks to transform societies for the better, through an approach that focuses on effective execution within strict timelines, as opposed to Manmohanomics where many schemes remained paper tigers only.
Again, by early 2019, the Modi government had reportedly achieved all of these — electrification of over 2.5 crore households under the Saubhagya Yojana with effect from October 2017; over 1.9 lakh km of roads built under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana; vaccination of well over 3.28 crore people under the Indradhanush scheme; building 9.56 crore toilets under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan; commissioning of over 33 crore LED bulbs that saved over Rs 17, 000 crore; making 5, 36, 724 villages Open Defecation Free (ODF); distribution of over Rs 5.37 lakh crore via Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) in 4.5 years to the rural and urban poor; covering 5,441 schools under Atal Tinkering Labs; due recognition to 14, 706 start-ups; scholarship applications received from over 1.26 crore people on the National Scholarship Portal; 23.66 lakh registered users under the Swayam scheme; benefits to 2.38 crore pensioners under the Jeevan Pramaan scheme and 1.24 crore people under the Atal Pension Yojana; extending paid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for pregnant women; establishing over 13, 000 Kaushal Vikas Kendras; disbursing over Rs 35, 000 crore to Indian armed forces and veterans under the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme; extension of accident insurance to 13.98 crore people under Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY), life cover to 5.47 crore Indians under Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) and insurance to 14.39 crore farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana ( PMFBY); distribution of over 17.17 crore Soil Health Cards (SHCs); distribution over Rs. 1.69 lakh crore as subsidies via Aadhaar; over 1.35 crore farmers covered under e-NAM for better pricing of farm produce, setting up of over 3 lakh Common Service Centres (CSCs), versus just 84, 000 that existed in 2014, besides, of course, opening over 34 crore Jan Dhan accounts, of which more than 50% belonged to women, to ensure universal financial inclusion, in its truest sense.
Also, Jan Dhan accounts, as of January 2019, had deposits in excess of Rs 89,000 crore.
One area that was grossly neglected under successive Congress establishments, including Manmohan Singh, was higher education. Reversing that trend, besides, of course, giving autonomy to Indian Institutes of Management (IIM), between 2015-16 and 2016-17, the Modi government also set up seven new IIMs in Amritsar, Bodh Gaya, Nagpur, Sambalpur, Sirmaur, Vishakhapatnam and Jammu, taking the total number to 20.
The sheer pace of Modinomics — versus the laxity of Manmohanomics — is evident from the fact that of the 23 Indian Institutes of Technology in India, in 71 years of independent India, 30% were set up in just two years by the Modi dispensation!
Again, of the 21 AIIMS in India, 14 were announced where work has either been completed or is at different stages of completion, in the last four and a half years of the Modi government, with the 22nd AIIMS, coming up in the state of Haryana. Add to that the fact that in December 2018, the Modi government decided to greenlight a proposal with an initial grant of Rs 65 crore, to give Jammu & Kashmir’s Ladakh region its first ever university, a long-standing demand of people from the region, including those from Leh and Kargil districts.
Giving life: Work either began or was completed on 14 new AIIMS in the last five years across India. (Source: Twitter)
Modinomics has focussed on deliverables, more than anything else. Be it the Kollam bypass in Kerala, bringing the 'Sitapur to Lucknow' railway track on the broad gauge network after 136 long years, or paving the way for a direct train service from Delhi to Leh — or for that matter, bringing Ladakh under the ambit of the national grid — Modinomics has set the bar high in terms of deliverables. Further, AMRUT, along with schemes like Heritage City Development and Augmentation (HRIDAY) and the ambitious ‘Smart City’ mission at a total cost of Rs 2.03 lakh crore, with the ability to impact 9.96 crore urban Indians, are projects that are set to transform India in the years going forward, like never before.
Again, the fact that Moody’s upgraded India’s sovereign rating in November 2017 to Baa2 from Baa3 for the first time in 14 long years; the fact that India moved up by 65 places at rank 77, in the World Bank’s global, Ease of Doing Business (EODB) rankings in the first four years of Modi’s tenure and the fact that India’s forex reserves hit a lifetime high of $424.86 billion in early April 2018, are all a ringing vindication of the stellar pace of reforms under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Apart from EODB, Modinomics has scored smartly on various other counts too — India improved its ranking in the Global Innovation Index (WIPO) from 76 in 2014, under an incompetent Manmohan Singh-led government to 57 in 2018 under Modi; from 65 in 2014 to 40 in 2018 in the Travel &Tourism Competitiveness Index; from 30 to 14 in the Climate Change Performance Index in the same period; from 40 in 2014 to 15 in 2018 in the e-Participation Index (UN); and from 118 to 96 in the e-Government Index (UN), during the same period.
Growth with high inflation is meaningless as it hurts the poorest and the middle class the hardest — and indeed, it is here that Modinomics scores handsomely over a jaded and tired Manmohanomics. The Narendra Modi-led government has won the war on inflation — resoundingly. The CPI inflation has consistently declined from 5.9% in FY2015 to 4.9% in FY2016, 4.5% in FY2017, 3.6% in FY2018 and further down to 3.4% in FY2019.
Speaking of transforming the lives of the rural poor, in 2018-19, over 54 lakh homes have been completed under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Gramin (PMAY-G). In 2017-18, around 38.67 lakh houses were built under this affordable housing scheme that aims at providing housing for all by 2022. In 2016-17, 32.22 lakh homes were built.
Contrast this with the number of houses completed under the Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) — only 10.49 lakh homes were built in 2012-13, under the Manmohan Singh government, reinforcing the lack of political will to go that extra mile for the poor and the marginal.
Thinking outside the box: PM Narendra Modi at an exhibition during the launch of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana in UP. (Source: PTI)
All of this should also be a wake-up call to those pseudo-liberals who lose no opportunity to castigate the Modi government for not doing enough. It would be apt to conclude by saying that Modinomics, in true Antyodaya style, has sought to bring development to the doorstep of the last person standing, to help him or her aspire for the impossible, and as they say, impossible is nothing when you have a leader like Modi at the helm.
Modinomics has underpinned the fact that the world’s largest democracy needs a strong leader who can deliver stability and economic development that is comprehensive and local in its roots — but global in its vision. This is extremely important, more so in contemporary times, when rising global protectionism have become the order of the day.
Of course, the fact that between February and May 2019, Modi flew 1.5 lakh km, addressing 142 rallies and Amit Shah travelled 1.58 lakh km, addressing 161 rallies, tell a fascinating story of how the Modi-Shah duo have charted a path-breaking course in India's political economy, having mastered the art of winning at the hustings, by doing what they do best — endearing themselves to the electorate and the ordinary Indian — who has come of age.