Why BJP should not celebrate two years of Modi government

The slogan - 'Desh badal rahaa hai' - may become another 'India Shining'-like disaster and boomerang in UP.

 |  5-minute read |   26-05-2016
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The Narendra Modi government is indulging in pompous celebrations to mark the completion of its two years in office, but it is also fraught with risks of getting boomeranged. The publicity overdrive surrounding the May 26 events reminds one of the previous NDA-driven campaigns such as "India Shining" and peddling of an artifically generated "feel-good factor" as well as the then deputy prime minister LK Advani's "Bharat Uday Yatra" in the run-up to the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.

With an eye on the crucial 2017 Uttar Pradesh (UP) Assembly polls, the BJP chose Uttar Pradesh's communally sensitive district of Saharanpur for Modi and other top leaders to enumerate the achievements of the NDA government on its second anniversary. Chances are that the excessve publicity may backfire in UP just like the India Shining campaign had done in the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

Besides holding a grand celebration in Saharanpur, the BJP has launched several initiatives to mark the occasion. Senior ministers in the Modi government were all over the news channels giving details of the works "accomplished" by them. The government also issued full-page advertisements in the newspapers titled "Abki baar" (this time) claiming feats achieved in distribution of LPG cylinders, Jan-Dhan scheme, opportunities for youth, employment/jobs, eradication of corruption, acceleration of development and agricultural growth.

The government also released audio and video rendition of tagline "Mera desh badal rahaa hai, aagey badh rahaa hai" (My country is changing and moving forward) which started playing on radio FM channels and TV respectively few days before the D-day.

But the question here is: Do these claims really reflect the situation on the ground?

There could be several reasons if the BJP loses the UP polls, such as chief ministerial candidate, issues raised and ticket distribution. But the "desh badh rahaa hai, aagey nikal rahaa hai", like the "India Shining", "feel good factor" and "Bharat Uday Yatra" of 2004, will certainly be one of them.

Contrary to what the government has projected, not much has improved on the unemployment front. There has not been a multi-fold jump in employment opportunities so as to quell the anger and frustration of the youth. The same is the case with inflation. Price rise remains a worrying factor for the people. Drought situation remains distressful for the farmers who continue to commit suicide in several parts of the country. The people are still waiting for the "Achhe din" promised by Modi in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Also read: India's rising unemployment should be Modi's biggest worry

However, the only redeeming feature of the Modi government indeed is the check in corruption. No big ticket sleaze has come to light in the last two years of the NDA rule.

There are uncanny similarities between the conditions prevalent now and in 2004. At that point in time too, the BJP had made lofty claims before the Lok Sabha elections. The Vajpayee government launched and massively publicised the "India Shining" campaign to give a sense of "feel good" to the voters. Advani undertook the nationwide "Bharat Uday Yatra" from Kanyakumari to Amritsar and from Rajkot to Jagannath Puri a couple of months before the elections.

The overconfidence of the Vajpayee government also emanated from the impressive victory of the BJP in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. The remarkable victory in Assam and relative improved performance in Kerala and West Bengal is surely the reason behind the Modi government's vanity this time around.

An overconfident BJP failed to empathise in 2004 with the common man, who was reeling under price rise and employment. Far from agreeing with the BJP's feel-good factor, the aam aadmi, particularly in the rural areas, felt they were being teased. If the self-conceited BJP leaders were feeling good then, it was not necessary that the common man also felt the same.

The Congress cashed in on this aspect of the BJP's strategy and came up with the popular slogan of "Congress ka haath, aam aadmi ke saath". This appealed to the voters who booted out the Vajpayee government.

In 2009, Advani attributed NDA defeat in the 2004 general elections to "overconfidence" and use of slogans like "India Shining". "The impression even among the opponents and foreign analysts was that we will win... but we lost... one, due to over-confidence and, secondly, using some wrong slogans like India Shining," he said.

"Our opponents went to the people and asked them if their homes were shining... everybody has his own problems... there is so much poverty in the country, farmers have their problems... they said where is India shining?" he said.

The Modi government may be falling in the same trap again. The overdoing of self-congratulatory celebrations may prove suicidal for the party in UP. It may not be taken kindly by the rural voters and the common man again. The BJP's rivals in UP such as Congress, with Modi's former aide Prashant Kishor on its side, Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party (SP) and Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) may again exploit this situation to their advantage.

The Centre surely deserves accolades for measures like trying to improve relations with Pakistan, opening the Chabahar Port in Iran and checking corruption at the Central level. However, it would have been more befitting of it to simultaneously focus on taking steps to improve the conditions which concern the common man on a day-to-day basis. Some concrete steps such as addressing agrarian distress, tackling unemployment, reducing the price of petroleum products and arresting the rising prices of essential commodities would have been much appreciated by the aam aadmi.

Writer

Kumar Shakti Shekhar Kumar Shakti Shekhar @shaktishekhar

Delhi-based journalist with more than 20 years of experience in reporting for print, TV & digital media.

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