Why Narendra Modi turned out to be such a disappointment

The PM may be good at winning elections, but his governance is as hollow as his promises.

 |  10-minute read |   23-11-2017
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Narendra Modi, the man with the Midas touch, came to power with a colossal victory. His vision for India seemed to carry a lot of weight, particularly at a time when the country and its people were tired of the corrupt and scam-infested UPA 2 regime.

Taking over his "silent" predecessor, Narendra Modi came as a breath of fresh air to Indians. He was what every Indian wanted – a leader with great oratory skills; unlike Manmohan Singh. The shift from a passive prime minister to a vibrant PM was welcoming. India’s optimism was palpable.

However, three and a half years down the road, the Modi magic has started to disappear.

Why?

Farce of good governance

On May 26, 2014, Modi played a stroke of genius by inviting the heads of SAARC nation to attend his swearing-in ceremony as India's 15th prime minister. This diplomatic step enthused a feel that the nation is all set to walk hand-in-hands with other countries, and it is going to progress.

But after three and a half years, PM Modi has become a prime example of a leader who may be good at winning elections, but whose governance is as hollow as his promises.

The BJP has tasted several victories in the past few years, and it is highly likely to win the upcoming Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections too. However, one thing is for sure - the party and its leaders have not been successful in giving the nation what they promised.

Today, India’s relations with its neighbours such as China, Nepal and Pakistan have gone worse from what they were during the UPA’s rule. The plight of Kashmir has taken a dive too, it is not even an inch closer to the fanciful image of Kashmir that Modi had made us envisage. From time to time, he has been vocal about Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and how his mistakes have wreaked a havoc on Kashmir, but the public needs to know what is Modi doing to change Kashmir’s situation for good?

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All that he seems to be concerned about is the Opposition’s blunders. In the past, he has thumped his 56-inch chest many times and told the world that the Congress miserably failed to handle Pakistan well, and the neighbour will be tackled adequately as and when the BJP gets the mandate to govern the nation.

Well, Indians did give a chance to Modi to fight for the nation’s integrity and safety, but instead, he was seen making surprise visits to Lahore on Nawaz Sharif’s birthday. And yet the year 2016 was marked by ramped up belligerence by Pakistan-sponsored terrorists, not to mention the repeated attacks on Indian security installations. 

At a time when the nation’s basic infrastructure and transportation mechanism is inept enough to meet the entire population’s expectations, PM Modi is claiming success with the launch of bullet train from Gujarat to Mumbai. On the one hand, there is this high-speed train which may or may not speed up Gujarat’s economy, and on the other, there is the rest of the nation that is finding it difficult to come to terms with regular train and bus accidents.

Quite sensibly, the people have started questioning Modi’s governance, and his charm has started to fade.

Achhe din, really?

Modi’s election manifesto promised high economic growth, creation of two crore jobs every year, and quelling corruption. Unfortunately, the country is staring at an economy where growth recorded a three-year low of 5.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2017-18, down from 6.1 per cent in the preceding quarter.

According to a report, eight major sectors (manufacturing, trade, construction, education, health, information technology, transport, and accommodation and restaurant) created just 6.41 lakh new jobs in the country between July 2014 and December 2016. And, that’s a shocking fall from 12.8 lakh new jobs created between July 2011 and December 2013 in the same eight sectors.

With the salaried class crying and the economy in the doldrums, the overnight decision of demonetisation by the Modi government took another toll on the people of the country. As many as 1.3 billion people became "cashless" in an instant, just to help PM Modi tackle black money. Millions of citizens spent hours standing in long queues in front of banks and ATMs. But, apparently, BJP leaders were already aware of the historic note-ban decision, and many of them stashed money in their accounts quite well in advance. A step that was well-timed ahead of Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections smartly left the Opposition parties cash-strapped, benefiting the BJP electorally.

An economy which is already witnessing slow growth had to spend Rs 7,965 crore in FY17 to print notes in the wake of demonetisation.

With RBI reporting that 99 per cent of the banned notes made their way back to the banks, demonetisation turned out to be an "all pain and no gain" scenario for the general public. Small businesses suffered, commoners had to face a massive cash crunch, and a nation which is still fighting poverty was digitised - helping the likes of Vijay Shekhar Sharma (Paytm’s founder) to achieve overnight success.

We know that Modi’s promise of depositing Rs 15 lakh in every citizen’s account by recovering black money was nothing but deceptive rhetoric. We were not expecting the amount to be transferred to our accounts, but all that we expected was a crackdown on the off-shore black money. Sadly, nothing of that sort happened.

Eight months after "demonetisation", the government came up with the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Even though this tax, which was originally introduced by the Congress government under Manmohan Singh’s regime, is a good decision, it was launched in a rather hasty manner, generating more heat than light. After dilly-dallying the same tax for over a decade, Modi took a quick U-turn and implemented the tax hurriedly, bringing the economy to a standstill. 

Now, with only a few weeks left for the Gujarat elections, the Modi government has slashed the GST rates. The rate on 178 items of daily use was reduced to 18 per cent from 28 per cent, and rates on various other items falling in the 5 per cent, 12 per cent and 18 per cent slabs also slashed – just to reap political dividends in the upcoming elections.

But the ill-effects of the GST have dragged all businesses along. From Surat’s diamond merchants to traders and power-loom weavers - all have been reeling under the force of GST - incurring heavy losses.

What's worse, Narendra Modi also failed to stand true to his promise that farmers will be paid minimum support price of 1.5 times their cost of production under the BJP government’s regime.

What happened to corruption?

In 2014, when Narendra Modi talked about a Congress-mukt Bharat, people cheered. His shout against corruption echoed the thoughts of millions of Indians. However, Modi’s claim of “na khaunga, na khane doonga” has been another bubble that have burst sooner than expected.

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From allegations of Arun Jaitley’s involvement in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) scam to Sushma Swaraj’s alleged links with scam-tainted Lalit Modi, Chhattisgarh’s CM Raman Singh’s linkage with the PDS/NAN scams, Madhya Pradesh’s CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s connection with the DMAT and Vyapam scams, and Rajasthan’s CM Vasundhara Raje’s involvement in the Lalit Modi and mining scams - the list of corruption-tainted leaders in the BJP is a long one for sure.

As if that was not enough, the BJP has welcomed into its fold corrupt political leaders of the Opposition as well. From Pema Khandu to SM Krishna - many former Congress leaders who were earlier accused of their involvement in various corruption cases have joined the BJP now. Narayan Rane, another former Congressman, who has faced money laundering allegations, recently floated a new political party called the Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksh and may, in all likehood, very soon ally with the BJP.

It seems the BJP’s focus has shifted from a "Congress-mukt Bharat" to "Congress-yukt BJP".

While failing to stand true to his promises has seriously punctured holes in PM Modi's reputation, the vendetta politics against the Congress has made him lose his sheen. His grudges with the Nehru-Gandhi family date back to the 2002 Gujarat riots, and no matter how strong he portrays himself to be, he couldn’t get over that rancour.

But Indians are no longer interested in knowing about what the Congress didn’t do for the country. They want to know what the BJP is doing.

After the 2002 pogrom, when Modi was being hailed as Hindu Hriday Samrat, he won the hearts of the Hindus who were feeling ignored during the UPA regime. The Hindu community, which was hitherto, a peace-loving community, fell into the trap of radicalism with the onset of the Modi era.

It didn't take long for the moderate Hindus who voted for Modi to bring in “vikas” to see through the deceiving rhetoric. Today, they fear that their choice has made them face governance sans any development - governance riddled with a sluggish economy, unemployment, weakened industries, hyper-nationalism, cow vigilantism, and ever-increasing negativity.

India has become a land of haters and baiters

Modi’s arrival as the PM was seen as the beginning of economic reforms. But instead we got religion- and caste-based politics, attacks on Dalits, appropriation of Congress leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, distortion of history, control over media, intolerance, and silence. Yes, Modi may be a great orator, but he maintains his silence on matters that demand his attention the most.

For instance: while Haryana was burning due to Jat agitation and Panchkula was set alight by Dera Sacha Sauda chief Ram Rahim's followers, PM Modi didn’t utter a word. After the devastating 26/11 Mumbai attacks, Vilasrao Deshmukh was made to resign, stating reasons like the responsibility of the state is on the chief minister. Then why didn’t the PM demand the resignation of Haryana’s CM Manohar Lal Khattar when Haryana suffered so much under his rule?

Modi may not be perpetrating any crime, but by remaining silent on issues that are tearing the fabric of Indian society, he is doing nothing less either.

Now, ahead of the Gujarat polls, the BJP is planning a "carpet-bombing" campaign in the state. As many as 30 BJP leaders will descend on the state on a single day. But why? Gujarat has been the core of Modi’s rise. What could have gone wrong in just a couple of years that Modi is facing difficulty in winning the state that he has claimed to "develop"?

Well, the only thing that has gone wrong is “reality”. People are now exposed to the grim reality.

The BJP’s diminishing popularity could be attributed to the party’s arrogance. When party president Amit Shah claims the BJP will stay into power for at least 50 years, it shows how arrogance has seeped into the party in just three years and how its members are on a one long ego trip.

While the Congress did a lot of mistakes and one of them was to take majority for granted by over appeasement of the minorities, the BJP has taken the entire nation for granted.

"To ensure a peaceful and secure environment" was a part of BJP’s 2014 election manifesto. Just three-and-a-half years later, the country has been anything but peaceful and secure.

The ongoing protests by right-wing activists against Bollywood film Padmavati further validates that. In the garb of nationalism, hyper-nationalism is being imposed by force, people are being labelled as "anti-nationals" the moment they speak against Modi/BJP/RSS, and communities are pitted against each other using communal politics.

People have begun to realise this though. They have now understood that Modi’s promise of "development for all" was nothing but farce, the only reality being "electoral success for the BJP".

Also read: Moody’s rating upgrade reaffirms Modi is doing good for India

Writer

Sadhavi Khosla Sadhavi Khosla @sadhavi

Entrepreneur, blogger and political analyst based in Gurgaon.

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