So I was a bit surprised that BJP did eventually come out with their manifesto for 2019 elections. Their 2014 manifesto was a heady mix of the best in class economic reforms, governance and nationalism which is difficult to beat by themselves or by any other political party. Congress has found a narrative for the election by easing economic reforms from BJP’s grasp and taking ownership of it. The BJP manifesto doesn’t really have anything more to say than what it did in its 2014 version. The same Ayodhya temple, doubling farmer’s income, creating employment etc. In 2014, they claimed that they would implement their entire manifesto in 5 years. Now they have changed their narrative by claiming that they need more time because the people gave Congress 60 years. Problem is, their dismal governance in 5 years does not resonate with their demand for more time.
I have come across many friends and readers of my articles denouncing me for sounding anti-BJP and anti-Modi. I want them to know that I am against everything that constitutes the current establishment. Be it Congress or BJP or any other political party, India’s burgeoning population is being matched toe to toe with the rise in corruption aided by these parties. Taxes come from 15-20% urban working class and 5-10% business class. The largest population is at the base of the economic pyramid where there are farmers, unemployed people, people who belong to BPL (Below Poverty Line) and people with just enough income to sustain themselves. None of them pay taxes. But benefits of taxes are supposed to reach everyone. This is why no one gets anything.
Add to this the burden of corruption and 80% of the money vanishing into thin air. The fabric of society has been getting stretched at its seams from all sides. I do not know how long this would last before everything crashes and the country plunges into civil unrest. China realized this in the 1980s which is why the government implemented the one child per family policy. Forceful abortions of 9 months pregnant women is nothing less than genocide, but then that’s what the government thought was the best way forward at that time.
I am in no way suggesting that we take the same road. We can work towards reducing corruption and I am not saying the establishment can be made 100% clean. If we can get to 70-80% (which is where most developed countries in the west are), the transformation would be phenomenal. Corporate funding of political parties is prevalent even in those developed countries, but corruption stays only at the upper echelons of the establishment. But in India, corruption has afflicted our entire social pyramid like cancer.
The sole reason is the instability in the country’s economy and lack of contentment and prosperity in people’s lives. Governance and civil administration is steeped in corruption. Everyone is trying to extract money from others in every possible way. Politics is all about vote banks which has fractured the society on the lines of religion, caste, communities and a hundred other reasons. Education creates critical thinking in people and political establishment is petrified of it, so education has always been on low priority in the rural areas which is the largest vote bank.
So, why did the country vote for Modi and BJP in 2014? Economic growth had become snail paced because of the effects of global recession. Many scams under UPA II had been exposed. Anti incumbency and disenchantment against Congress had peaked. Modi had positioned himself as the saviour of the country. He had promised a Congress mukth Bharat (India free of Congress). All of these factors contributed to the wholesome shifting of support to Modi. But nothing changed.
The core issues of our society not only remain unchanged, but have worsened. Societal divides have deepened, corruption has catapulted to new heights, Hindu fundamentalism has become stronger, economy has come to a grinding halt after demonetization which in turn has destroyed the MSME sector and governance has become increasingly autocratic in nature which is actively looking to clamp down on questions and dissent. Breakdown in governance and economy also occurred during the time leading to the imposition of emergency in India in 1975 by Indira Gandhi. But instead of cleansing India of the mistakes of the Congress, Modi is taking the same route and asking “if Congress can why can’t I?”
I am no bhakt (blind follower) of Arvind Kejriwal but this is where his way of governance has been creating positive social impact. While Modi promised the Sun, Moon and all the planets in the solar system to the people in 2014, Kejriwal has identified key pain points of the people in Delhi and has been working diligently towards solving them.
Electricity, water, education, healthcare. Fundamental needs of people and he has delivered on them, not 100% but enough to create positive impact on the lives of people. Now he is demanding full statehood for Delhi which in turn will result in greater employment for the youth of Delhi. His governance does not divide people on religions, castes and social status.
All of these in turn will legitimize his call for more time in governance during the next elections in Delhi. Modi could have chosen a similar path in 2014, picked up a few areas in governance, worked on them, showed results and then asked the people for more time. But his only agenda was to usurp power and hold on to it at all cost now. Unlike Congress, BJP and other political parties that load their manifestos with solutions to problems and hardly work towards them, Kejriwal has only been talking about solutions that are implementable. When all political parties guffawed and derided him for reducing the cost of electricity and water in Delhi, he has proved that both are sustainable.
BJP’s 2019 manifesto is just a dusted copy of its 2014 version. For 5 years, there was no talk of the Ram temple at Ayodhya. Now people have realized that it is just an election gimmick. Who in India needs another temple now? Do people need employment, basic means of living, education, less inflation and better infrastructure or do they need a temple? Making enrollment of farmers under the crop insurance scheme (PMFBY) voluntary has been interpreted as its abject failure. Facts about Rafale deal and Balakot continue to be unearthed and put in public domain which is further undermining Modi’s claim to be the protector of the country’s security.
Creating jobs and doubling farmer’s income are also their tunes from 2014. While unemployment has peaked, agrarian distress has claimed the lives of hundreds of farmers in debt. Modi cannot be trusted to even repair the worsened situation. Corruption was a cornerstone of their election manifesto in 2014 and a primary reason for the support Modi received. But under his watch it has risen exponentially and created numerous black money hoarders.
Prior to 2014, my father and I hated politics and believed that Congress has had enough time holding on to power and the country needs an alternative. We also thought Modi would prove to be a strong leader. But the first sign of deceit came in the form of a picture of Guangzhou, a city in China which was publicized as Ahmedabad by BJP IT cell.
When Modi started asking for votes in his name, we realized that the political discourse and governance of the country was going to take a plunge. That is when we started expressing our opposition to Modi on social media. A political leader putting himself above the party he represents and the electoral establishment are distinct signatures of autocracy. But we also loathe the fact that people have no alternative to look at other than Congress because it has shown the way Modi is treading now.
The destruction caused by the Modi government to the country’s economy in the last 5 years will take 10 years or even more to repair – which makes it a convenient narrative for the Congress to continue being in power if they manage to beat BJP in this election. A coalition of regional parties can at best bring the next election closer because of infighting for power. Kejriwal is too young and immature in politics to take national leadership. Another 5 years of Modi could mean no further elections as his autocratic mindset would take for granted that people would keep voting for him so there is no more need of elections.
Uncertainty looms before the country in all cases. There is little scope for betterment and only fervent hope for more disintegration to not happen.