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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

One Hundred Days of Modi Government; India Modyfied or unmodified



It is not just coincidental that leading English media in India have published reviews on the performance of BJP lead NDA government titled as 100 days of Modi government rather than 100 days of NDA govt or 100 days of BJP government. Such is the influence of Narendra Damodardas Modi Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world at present, who is believed to have brought BJP into power almost single handedly. He wields enormous powers now and it is right to term NDA govt as Modi government. But along with power comes responsibility too. The expectations of the public who decisively voted him to power are also very high.
                                                                                                               
As a general Modi forced his enemies flee from the battlefield and captured the post of Prime Minister of India emerging as the most powerful leader India has seen in the recent times after Indira Gandhi. He has a clear majority in India’s lower house which will make decision making his own prerogative. That also means he won’t be able to blame allies for his government’s failures.

Right from the beginning, after assuming power, Modi has been demanding time before assessing him. It is true that any government in India needs time to set things right, especially after the chaos which marked the rule of former UPA government. But it is unlikely that the public are such magnanimous.  They are fed up with the lame excuses of politicians and even a fair request is unlikely to be entertained.

In this situation it is clear. 100 days are enough for the preliminary review of Modi government’s performance. Let us check the government’s performance on different fronts like 1. Political Front 2.Administration 3. External Relations. It is also important to review whether parameters used by his opponents to review Modi have changed after he became PM and its impact.

 Modi’s persona now and then

Perhaps Narendra Modi, as Gujarat chief minister was a politician who was attacked the most in India ever. Modi was made a synonym of Hindutva by his opponents who relentlessly and unethically attacked him. It was this attack that made him familiar to crores of Hindus across India from Kerala to Kashmir who identified themselves with him. This won him their sympathy and perhaps they felt Modi’s opponents where in fact attacking them and their values. Opponents of Modi made him an icon of Hindu resistance unknowingly and result is Hindus rallied behind him.

Now after Modi became Prime Minister, he is no more the subject of attack of anti-Hindu groups who have now turned their focus to new groups and people. So now Modi will be judged as an administrator not a leader of Hindutva groups. This means Modi will have to perform to win admiration.

Political Front

The by-elections to assembly seats in different states across the country was the first political test faced by BJP after it came to power. Unfortunately Narendra Modi has failed to deliver BJP any success this time. From Uttarkhand, Bihar and Punjab in the north to Karnataka in the south, BJP’s performance is at the best average which means it has not been able to sustain the advantage it gained during Lok Sabha elections held only a few months ago.

Even after its worst ever defeat the Congress party seems to be confident and Congress which is known for its inner party fights is relatively united now. The party leadership communicates well, still hit media headlines and has influence in the top bureaucracy at the centre. This is really amazing. This means BJP has failed to attack Congress politically after election and disperse its cadres away from Sonia-Rahul leadership. Coordination of state units of BJP with the union government is poor and there is not strategy to provide advantage to state units using the influence and decisions of union government.

The political, religious, media, business, social and bureaucratic coteries which support Congress are still adamantly and successfully opposing BJP and Hindu groups which means Modi has been unable to take meaningful steps to tame them.


Administration

Going by media reports it seems Narendra Modi has succeeded in disciplining government offices and lower bureaucracy to a great extent. They arrive at office on time and take decisions quickly. Offices and premises are now cleaner. It also seems bribery has not increased. These are good steps and evoke an image of Corporate Culture.

But the real question is have the people begun to feel the change? Are the prices falling or at least stable. Are the charges for government services stable. Or will an improvement in quality of service is felt when charges are hiked.? For eg hike in price of petroleum products or railway fares or hike in toll by National Highway authority. 

People don’t bother about nuances in policy changes, they judge by its impact on their lives. Sadly BJP government has not been able to do much on this.
It seems the influence of Congress on top bureaucracy and some business and media houses still continue and they will upset BJP’s applecart.


Communication or information dissemination

The success of a government or political party depends not only on the sincerity of their acts but also on their ability to convince the public. Whatever social media enthusiasts say, Mainsteam Media continues to play a key role in building public opinion in India. Of course the new media including social media platforms are now a significant force.

BJP’s use of mainstream media continues to be weak and good acts of the government are often unreported or under reported. It seems government does not have a strategy to influence media positively. Overcautious ministers distance themselves from media and the result is disastrous.

For example India’s bold stand for the poor and destitute at WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement has not been communicated to the public. The bold stand of government should have won the admiration of even opponents. Why the govt failed to communicate? Perhaps Modi knows.....or his media adviser (Sorry forgot the fact that he doesn’t have one yet). Apart from some over enthusiastic followers on twitter, Modi needs to have real time journalists and communication experts who can help him communicate better. The government has been unable to get full mileage of its rescue of Keralite nurses from the war torn Iraq. This should not happen again.

Foreign front

Perhaps the only area where government rose to expectations is here. Modi’s initiatives at building better relations with SAARC countries and other Asian countries including China mark a remarkable shift from the attitude of lethargic UPA government. Hope Modi would maintain the tempo and help India emerge as a world leader.

Conclusion

BJP should not take by-poll results likely. Strategies that once helped to win may not be just enough to sustain the momentum. Keep reinventing. Communicate effectively. Make people feel the change. This is a great chance for Hindutva groups. Please don’t squander it.

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