Has Modi lost a golden opportunity?

It was one Saturday one time and a Sunday the following week and every week almost, the people of India were hooked to television sets waiting to listen to the future leader of the country, none other than Modi. That was 2013 September onwards when Narendra Modi got elected as the head of campaign committee of BJP who was addressing rallies in various parts of country. There was euphoria all over with the expectations soaring as the then dispensation had failed miserably having been accused of one scam after another. It was a movement that began with Anna Hazare fasting for the cause of Lokpal bill which eventually got passed by parliament. Arvind Kejriwal gave the political touch for the movement with his Aam Aadmi Party that eventually got Delhi to rule.

 

History was created on 16 th may 2014 when BJP got a historic mandate of 282 seats and people started celebrating with joy the advent of a non congress dispensation in full majority for the first time after Independence. The mood was palpable as the expectation that Modi rallies with its slogan of Achhe Din had generated tremendous response from public. By then the public was reeling from the effects of not only from rampant corruption, but also with higher fuel prices, inflation with high cost of living, high interest rates and lack of job opportunities.

So what did BJP promise that got them to 282 in 2014? The main catch was bringing black money back and putting it into every Indian account an amount of Rs 15 lakh. Come 2018 almost after 4 and half years of the Modi Government, where do we stand? The petroleum minister says he is helpless to bring down fuel prices as the Global factors are responsible for it. If that is the case why didn’t you bring down the prices when the global prices were falling between 2014 and 2016 the people are asking. What happened to the wind fall gains by the government during that period. You are claiming that the oil marketing companies have become profitable, what about people, a big hole in their pockets?. Is this what Achhe Din all about?.

When Demonetization was announced, there was a promise “Give me 50 days, you will see happiness forever. What happened later? The Govt has not even bothered to listen to people, when some people lost lives, not an iota of sympathy was shown towards them. Let alone that, when some people could not exchange their old currency sought one more opportunity, they were denied suspecting them to be black money hoarders.

So what has demonetization brought our life to as on today. The so called perceived black money did not come in thousands or lakhs of crores. All that RBI ended up was just a difference of 0.7 percent in the currency not returning after demonetization. The economic chain of activity got cut. Jobs were lost. Just walk on the main commercial streets in your city, you will see only the staff of a shop seen inside with occasional visits by customers. This was prevalent even during festive season. The only exceptions have been eateries.

The BJP is claiming that with demonetization the tax base has enhanced and unaccounted money has been unearthed. But at what cost? Imagine the cost of New currency printing, jobs lost, economic chain of activity getting hit. We are not privy to some of the statistics that the government claims to have benefited due to Demonetization. The better way to describe this situation is, for a professional, the money flow is badly hit, payments are not given on time even after completion of the job due to cascading effect. People are not spending money but postponing their decisions in the private sector. Orders even after confirmation is either getting cancelled or deferred due to money crunch. To add insult to injury increase in petrol price, interest rates remaining the same for old customers and essential commodities remain where they are with respect to price.

One more hit came from GST. It was a brave and bold move by Modi government but what is the benefit to common man. The prices have not come down, they have increased on some goods and more shocking has been the irrational entry of GST into certain goods where none existed earlier. Like for example, people are paying for GST for the premium they are paying for Insurance. This has lead to a perception that Modi has started punishing his voters for having voted him to power.

There is a clear perception that has set in the minds of public especially amongst the middle class that Modi government has shut all the doors for them. What used to be the safe source of income thro’ Bank interest rates has come down drastically. Any scheme that you invest in does not offer more than 7 percent returns. Let alone the FDs, keeping money in Bank Account has become scary with frauds of Nirav Modi & Mehul Choksi coming to light and the way the customers are being fleeced with various charges. Besides this, the middle class has also seen the commitment of this Government on fighting corruption and black money. It was only symbolic of them to join Anna Hazare for Lok Pal bill as an opposition party. After coming to power there is no word on instituting Lok Pal except a few meetings to have been called to discuss it being reported in the media.

The point here is where do people stand after 4 and half years of Modi Govt? they feel disheartened, let down. Imagine the optimism they had when the Government took over and see where they are today. Miserable is what you can describe it as. Some of the spokespersons of BJP are so vocal in suggesting that “look at the number of subscriptions to EPF, they are a big indicator of employment generation. But in reality what is the picture? When a Government undertakes such measures as demonetization and GST, it is like a scientist conducting a test before certification. What people are asking is why don’t you listen to them when it has gone horribly wrong and hurt them. Probably a dialogue will help in achieving the success. Come February every year, for the last 4 years, people have been looking forward to the Union Budget for some initiatives, measures that will address the needs of the common man. Where are they? One of the regional channel chief post this year’s budget was commenting, has this BJP government lost a golden chance? After all the Government has still not ensured basic necessities of food, shelter and education to one and all. It makes the people ask the Government why do an animal test on us when you cannot provide an alternate to our present state of affairs?

So in Summary, after 5 years our lifestyle has not improved but deteriorated with same old issues of higher prices, lesser income and more difficulty. If the recent assembly election results have not served alarm bells to BJP, then they may end up ceding the space back to Congress despite arguing in Television channels that Congress does not stand a chance.

(writer is a media and communication professional and a supporter of Cultural Nationalism)