We need more Modis!

If you’re wondering who I am, I am not any political pundit. I am just one of those millions of average citizens who voted for BJP & Modi last year. Yeah the one also called as a bhakt by many on social media. For so many of us, Sunday was a disappointing day. Not because BJP lost, but due to the fact that the party couldn’t see the writing on the wall. Now what this writing was; has been explained by many political commentators and analysts, mainly bashing BJP’s much hyped communal politics and anti-beef campaign. This is the second major defeat including the infamous Delhi election after May 2014. When the Delhi results unfolded, I failed to understand why would people so overwhelmingly vote against BJP in 2015 when the party had had a clean sweep just a few months ago. I thought it was an aberration as it was a mix of clever campaigning and basic social arithmetic by the AAP along with rejection of Kiran Bedi perceived as an opportunist. But the Bihar mandate came as a jolt to see this has happened again successfully. A mega defeat yet again, even after the PM campaigned relentlessly to vote for development and shun caste politics. There was also the high voltage campaign by media about intolerance, Dadri murder and #awardwapsi. Everyone I spoke to say the negative campaign of BJP led them to this disaster. Let me add my 2 cents as an amateur analyst about what went wrong in Bihar & how the national politics has changed since the judgement day in May 2014.

The fact that Modi rode a phenomenal wave for lok sabha on the back of a stellar campaign has been accepted even by his harshest critics. But then there were also many insinuations made by the media and chatter class analyzing the mandate about what was said and not said. Most importantly there was one about vote share to point out 69% of people have voted against Modi. This was scoffed at by the party and its supporters together. Even if there were some truth in it, this 69% vote was scattered and the BJP had done its homework to make sure the 31% arithmetic works in its favor. In the euphoria of the victory BJP had forgotten that the other parties have lost humiliatingly. There is one thing about being humiliated so badly, it will make you do hitherto inconceivable things. It was time to sharpen the knives again.

The dangers started when all the opponents started looking at this data and realized that there was a significant number of people who are against Modi and started working towards exploiting it. Enter the Mahagathbandhans. The ability of diametrically opposed political parties to junk their ideologies and come together with the sole motive to defeat BJP is being much underrated. It took time for the opposition parties to come to terms and that’s when BJP picked up victories in Haryana, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and J&K to an extent. Delhi, though was ripe with the high-pitched AAP and infighting local BJP and the dagger was well in!

From a distance, Delhi elections look like a landslide victory for Arvind Kejriwal and in fact there was a lot of support for him from the youth. But if he were to ride a wave, he would have won with similar margins in 2012. The 2015 Delhi result was a clever realignment of the Congress vote to AAP where congress quietly took a backseat. It was an invisible alliance.

Mahagathbandhan was formed on this backdrop with data in hand. Vote share of the BJP went down from around 30% in 2010 to 25% based on the initial reports that came in on sunday. The MGB got around 40% of the vote overall including others like the Congress party. I am not of the belief that people are vastly influenced by the news trends of the last 5 weeks or the campaigns while choosing a government for next 5 years based. Media with its arrogance believes it can impact the mandates. In my opinion the vote swings at the max are 2-3% which is significant but not enough to overturn the fortunes.

That the political geography of India is based on deep rooted vote banks is not rocket science. The 30-35% vote share which the BJP gets is mainly urban and upper caste. To expect landslides with barely 1/3rd vote is not practical anymore. If the BJP expects to win more states or defend the mandate in 2019, there is an urgent need for reform in the approach towards elections. By making development visible, by creating local structures of the party and grooming new age leaders. Case in point is the dynamic MP from Mysuru, Mr. Pratap Simha who has built a brand in his constituency as a doer. Now is the time to take such brands beyond the constituency and get noticed within the state. The fringe loud mouths are causing a lot of damage and need to be promptly shunted out if you expect more liberal people to vote for you.

I complimented BJP for providing Kiran Bedi an opportunity as a CM candidate even though it was a done haphazardly at the last minute and she along with the party failed miserably. It was still a forward looking step and should have been continued. Voters today need to identify who they’re voting for, which ironically should have been one of the major learnings of 2014 mandate. They are tired of voting for you Mr. Modi. People with all due respect do not even recognize or remember who are the CMs of Jharkhand, Haryana, Goa or even Gujarat for that matter unless they make harebrained comments in the media. I wonder why the sole reason of rise of brand Modi is being junked when there is a need to create more and more such Narendra Modis. The doers.

And that is only when one can expect over 50% of the vote without any threats from the so called Mahagathbandhans.

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On the verge of history!

 

For all the cacophony that was supposed to be governance and building india the last 10 years, today we stand at the verge of a new era in governance. The fact that the UPA has so spectacularly screwed up the growth story and the economy, we should be at least optimistic in what the new government has to offer. Looking back at the opportunities that have been lost and what we stand to gain the next 5 years, we see two successive UPA governments at different ends of spectrum. The first UPA offered a decent growth around 9 percent and then a downfall in the second term. Wouldn’t it be safe to say that most of the growth in the first term had been due to the policies and the measures taken by the NDA government until 2004? The major scam that has taken place in the second UPA term was not 2G, CWG, Coal or myriad of other scams but the derailing of the growth story and getting us to where we are right now. We can talk about a lot of faults as factors such as inability or the incompetence of the UPA, but it was predominantly because the government never really bothered to make corrections or do the right thing for our country and hence the multitude of scams and corruption. We all talk about the global recession, scams and so many external factors contributing to the decline, but it would be unwise to ignore the factor of economies of west playing their own part with the UPA to derail India growth story. The Indian and other similar world economies cater to the American and EU economies, I wonder if a strong indian economy is in the best interests of the big players.

A lot of it is also because our national media has never really bothered to pull up the government for its inability to govern. If we look at media, primarily the TV news media and that most of them sprung up during the UPA rule and the amount of credibility that they have been left with it suspiciously looks like they played hand in glove with the misadventures of UPA. As it has been evident with information that has come out in the public domain time and often that the major news organizations are backed by foreign news behemoths, it could very well be possible that they could very well have had a stake in controlling our economic policy through UPA. This arrangement between the media and its stake in government policies would definitely alter with the new government but not sure in what direction.

Around the period of 2007 and 2008 some studies were done to understand the growth story of India. As per a McKinsey report, the middle class population in India at that time was around 50-60 million people and projected to be around 270 million by 2014-15. I wonder how much of that has been possible as the current statistics are unavailable. My guess is we are around 150-170 million people we could categorize as middle class and thats about 15%. We have gotten to a state where the government perpetually debates about defining the definition of poverty and calling it a state of the mind instead of providing the poor a sustainable life. By most estimates, around 30% population is below the poverty line. We have an untapped resource of around 500-600 million people who belong to the lower middle class of our society. This is majorly the population which lives in the numerous towns of india.

I would like to believe that the the purchasing power of middle class is what basically defines the strength of a country’s economy across the world. Looking at the future and the opportunity it presents us with, upgrading our lower middle class population to a middle class would be the biggest challenge. This I would assume will have a ripple effect to the bottom end of the society improving the standard of people below the poverty line. This is where specifically the manifesto of the BJP makes all the ‘right’ noises. Building 100 new cities, better road connectivity, infrastructure, upgrading the manufacturing sector, skill development and tourism wherever possible. The towns and rural India is what would get the most out of these measures. American economy by nominal GDP is at $17 trillion with a population of around 320 million and we are 1/10th of its size with around 4 times the size of its population. Any change in purchasing power and strengthening of our fundamentals would result in tectonic shifts and major realignments towards east with India and China being the hubs and other technology hubs such as Japan, Taiwan and Korea supplementing it. I wonder if this what the western governments are apprehensive about.

One of the major accomplishments that UPA boasts about in its regime is the NREGA, that rural people get 100 days of employment per year. Mr. Jayaprakash Narayan of LokSatta Party put it best when he said, “In this day and age, it is an insult to our people to consider digging and filling pits as employment. NREGA has also distorted labour markets and destroyed the work ethic.” and that is the sad reality of dole based reign of UPA. This is where Mr. Modi’s focus area of skill development makes real sense to provide sustainable employment round the year. For all the talk about Gujarat model and how effective it will be in other places, my understanding of the Gujarat/Modi model is about the ability and willingness to solve problems. Every state and every landscape of our country has its own problems and with that presents us unique opportunities. The ability and willingness to take the bull by its horns and solve those problems and grab the opportunities is what is required and whatever model we may call it is irrelevant. I think Mr. Modi offers this. The aspiration of India to be superpower in a global economy is well placed in the hands of a leader who has the guts, the experience and looks like has the sense to take India to its rightful place. On the verge of history, on the day the nation takes a turn for the better let us wish ourselves a Better India.

Over to you Modiji !