Eight years of Prime Minister Modi's competent stewardship

Modi continues to be, by far, the most popular leader. Were the elections to be held today, by all accounts he would again return to power with a huge mandate.

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Monday, May 30, 2022, 08:36 AM IST
article-image
Prime Minister Narendra Modi | Photo: PTI

The Opposition criticism of the Prime Minister on the eighth anniversary of the Modi government is along predictable lines. After all, you don’t expect it to compliment him even for some good he might have done in these past eight years. But we can report that eight years after he first took office as prime minister, Modi is still going strong. He faces no credible challenge from within or without the ruling party. In fact, the political situation seems far more favourable to the BJP now than it was in 2014, thanks to Modi’s astute leadership. Neither anti-incumbency nor numerous acts of omission and commission, normal for anyone in power this long, seem to have dented his popularity. Modi continues to be, by far, the most popular leader. Were the elections to be held today, by all accounts he would again return to power with a huge mandate. Clearly, he must have done something right in these eight years to retain the trust of the voters. The answer lies in the number of welfare schemes delivering targeted relief to the economically weaker sections. Though the Vajpayee-Advani duo did succeed in bringing the BJP to power for the first time, yet the saffron party could not shake off the image of an urban-centric Bania-Brahmin-middle class party with a pro-business bias. It took Modi, a self-avowed OBC, to broaden the party's appeal with his welfare schemes for the poor. The BJP is now a mass-based party, growing roots even in the remotest corners of the country, though a few states in the South were still a work in progress.

However, given how the PM with an able number two in Amit Shah has gone about in the last eight years, it is only a matter of time before the saffron seed sown in the hitherto hostile environment begins to bear fruit. Under Modi, not only has the BJP become a pan-Indian party, it has ousted the Congress from its high perch. While the once-dominant Congress is now groping for direction, having lost its way under the combined onslaught of the Gandhis, the BJP has established itself as the unquestioned leader in the crowded political space teeming with a host of regional outfits but none with a nation-wide appeal. No doubt, without a number of policy measures the PM could not have consolidated his hold on the popular pulse. A slew of welfare schemes have helped bolster the Modi magic. It is not that such welfare schemes were not implemented earlier. But Modi vastly expanded the welfare basket. And, more importantly, ensured that welfare reached the targeted beneficiaries. If earlier, as Rajiv Gandhi had famously confessed, only 15 paise reached the target, while 85 paise was pocketed by middlemen, under Modi at least 85 paise of the welfare rupee, if not more, finds its way to the intended beneficiaries. Digitisation of governmental processes definitely helped eliminate the sticky-fingered middlemen. Also, ordinary people are actually impressed by the PM’s well-publicised foreign forays. The sophisticated might be turned off by the standard show of body hugs and embraces of foreign dignitaries, but the masses seem to love it. Indeed, when Modi first graduated from Gandhinagar to New Delhi, there were concerns about whether he would be able to conduct himself well on the world stage. Happily, it did not take long for a self-assured Modi to behave like a pro in the ancient art of diplomacy.

Of course, Modi may have let down a vast constituency that had believed that he would fast-track economic reforms. Not only has he not done so, but in some cases, he has allowed the state to creep further into the business domain. Demonetisation was clearly a misadventure. Farm laws were well-intentioned but lacked consultations with the stakeholders, thus forcing a retreat. In his first stint as PM, he had to backtrack on the amendment of the land acquisition law. Here again, the worthy objective was marred by opportunistic elements determined to show the PM in poor light. But, credit him you must, for the insolvency and bankruptcy code, for the GST, nullification of Article 370, etc. Handling of the economy, by and large, has been competent, though the Russian aggression against Ukraine and its global effect on the price-line could not have been anticipated. Again, there was some merit in criticism about growing intolerance in society, especially towards the minorities. More than the actual actions, the vile statements by a small fringe create a vicious atmosphere, playing straight into the hands of the visceral critics of the PM. Modi needs to address the issue frontally before it tears down the always fragile mosaic of castes and communities which together make India India. Eight years after he first took office, Modi needs to lower social tensions, end his party’s obsession with the past, and redirect the energies of the nation towards faster socio-economic progress instead of allowing old wounds to scar the development process. He has it within him to become a true statesman instead of a mere leader.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

RECENT STORIES

Mumbai Metropolitan Region records highest sales of approx 25,785 units in Q2 2022

Mumbai Metropolitan Region records highest sales of approx 25,785 units in Q2 2022

Uddhav Thackeray has lost fighting spirit: Former CM Prithviraj Chavan

Uddhav Thackeray has lost fighting spirit: Former CM Prithviraj Chavan

Daily Horoscope for Friday, July 1, 2022, for all zodiac signs by astrologer Vinayak Vishwas...

Daily Horoscope for Friday, July 1, 2022, for all zodiac signs by astrologer Vinayak Vishwas...

Mumbai cruise drugs case: Aryan Khan seeks passport back as exonerated in drugs case

Mumbai cruise drugs case: Aryan Khan seeks passport back as exonerated in drugs case

Navi Mumbai: NMMC area sees 190 new cases of Covid-19 on June 29

Navi Mumbai: NMMC area sees 190 new cases of Covid-19 on June 29