The Indian Electorate Demands Answers, Mr Modi
Have enough jobs been created? Have industries grown enough? Have oil prices been controlled?
The 2014 Lok Sabha election results were a foregone conclusion owing to the aggressive campaign of the Bharatiya Janata Party, led by a vicious, malicious and spiteful IT Cell. Sloganeering, name-calling and ridiculing the Gandhi family — chiefly Rahul Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru — were a big hit with the Indian voter. Narendra Modi promised large-scale development, economic growth, job creation, industry expansion, lower prices, enacting Lokpal (no tolerance to corruption), relief to farmers, and everything under the sun.
Several of the promises were to be delivered by the government within 100 days, and the rest had no timeline then but were definitely to be delivered by no later than May 2019. During the 2014 campaign and even till December 2016, the Indian electorate was patiently behind the Modi sarkar, electing them to power in different states one after the other.
It seemed that the Modi government was invincible and would probably emulate its 2014 performance in the 2019 general elections. Many even believed that the 2019 Lok Sabha elections would be a no-contest and every person became a political guru providing free advice to the opposition parties and their cadres to start their preparations for the 2024 General elections.
People from every caste, class, profession, occupation, age-group seemed to have been mesmerised by something called the “Modi magic”. New terms started making a commonplace in most socio-political discussions across the country — Tukde Tukde gang, anti-nationals, libtards, sickularists, etc.
The BJP’s supposed invincibility, however, took a significant hit with the announcement of their “grandest” policy decision — the Demonetisation drive in 2016. It is safe to assume that many Indians now get a panic attack any time our current prime minister plans a special address or announcement for the “nation”. Recently, on March 27, 2019, when news flashed on every mobile and television screen about an important address by the Prime Minister to the nation, all sorts of theories started making rounds in the masses, dominated chiefly by jokes, taunts and sarcasm on demonetisation. I remember one such Tweet that said, “Modiji kuch to hint do! Bunker ki taraf bhagein ya ATM ki taraf?” Sadly, the larger significance of the Shakti project and the achievements of our space scientists was overlooked.
The Prime Minister sought 50 days from the country during Demonetisation, but most are still left wondering about when those 50 days would come to an end. The wait has become slightly longer with the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax by a government whose Prime Minister ridiculed the previous government on GST as much as he could before assuming office in May 2014.
The campaign run by the BJP in 2014 had another dimension, i.e. to claim that nothing good has happened in the country since independence. It is for another day to refute the claim on merits based on real facts and figures on the growth of the country and benefits reaped by the people. Strangely that narrative has somehow gained much more prominence in their campaign for current general elections.
After having served a full five-year term with an absolute clear mandate, as a citizen I was looking forward to a comprehensive progress report on “Achche Din”, ease-of-business, Make in India, Skill India, employment generation, etc. All this apart from the far-reaching positive results of Demonetisation and implementation of GST on the industry, economic development, a curb on terrorism and employment generation.
Oddly, these aspects have been given an apparent miss in the election campaign of the ruling party which has decided to rely on the achievements of the brave Indian Armed Forces. There does not seem to be any remorse or accountability for the numerous attacks, especially, Pulwama, Uri, Gadchiroli, etc. rather the Prime Minister can be seen seeking votes for the lives the country has lost in these attacks. To rub salt in the wounds of victims and families, a terror accused, mind you an accused only released on bail and not acquitted, is a BJP candidate. I am not jumping to any conclusions, but honestly, the charges against the said candidate are of terrorism and not of petty crimes that can be taken lightly.
Another peculiar aspect which cannot be ignored is the narrative of “nationalism” based on the sloganeering of “Bharat Mata ki Jai”. The BJP spokespersons seem to be at a loss of words when asked tough questions on the delivery of promises made in 2014. They start shouting “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and “Vande Mataram” as if that would create jobs in the country and make industries grow.
All this somehow makes sense when we recall the open admission by Mr Amit Shah, the BJP National President, that promises made during the 2014-election campaign by them were election jumlas and admittedly are not to be implemented. Interestingly, this thought has also been reiterated by Mr Nitin Gadkari, stated to be one of the few ones attempting to get work done as a Union Minister and not merely trolling others on Twitter.
Any piece on the BJP’s election campaign cannot miss the national fervour that the party seeks to enthuse in the masses through religious polarisation. Most of the youth are still puzzled about the amount of nationalism thrown on some of the news channels daily, only to ask themselves: Have enough jobs been created? Have industries grown enough? Have the oil prices been controlled? Has quality education reached every nook and corner? Has the farmer distress been redressed, amongst other things? Well, the answers lie nowhere certainly not where we are looking for since all we are getting is “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and “Vande Mataram”.
I am a patriot and believe in the potential of this country, but I am also entitled to real answers on the questions of delivery of promises by an elected government instead of sloganeering and “Main Bhi Chowkidar”.
Siddharth Bapna is an advocate in the Rajasthan High Court.