PM Modi Needs To Push Emotive Issues With Development To Stay Ahead Of The Curve

This article written by me was first published by swarajyamag.com here On May 16, 2016

The Modi government will complete two years in office this month. Modi won a massive mandate in 2014 because he was ahead of his critics and opponents who were still living in a cynical past.For last two years he has shown that he is several steps ahead of his supporters and critics. On economy, he has delivered handsomely while confounding both the Left and the Right He has ‘turned screws’ (to use his own words) on corruption, big crime, and anti-national activities causing discomfort and howls of protests by those affected.

The optimism he generated is still very much intact. Yet, BJP lost Delhi and Bihar badly. The current state elections aren’t likely to improve BJP’s standing much, except in Assam.

For UP elections next year and for the elections in 2019, Modi’s opponents are going to regroup better because they have tasted success in Delhi and Bihar. They believe that in absence any national issues causing a wave, their chance will be quite good.

To win in 2019, PM Modi will need to be several steps ahead of his opponents. His track record suggests that this what he will try do.

What are the factors that can help or hinder Modi’s chances in 2019?

If Modi delivers on creation of jobs and livelihoods on a massive scale he would fulfill his most important promise. For ordinary people development means jobs and livelihoods and not just highways, airports, and malls.

There are massive levels of infrastructure investments taking place. Programs like Make in India, ease of doing business, Start up and Stand up India, are making headway. This is Modi’s top priority. These programs will boost economic growth, and earn global praises but they won’t be enough to create required levels of jobs and livelihoods by 2019.

Even with economic growth , life in cities is terrible due to housing shortage and woeful public transport. If Modi Sarkar makes a big dent in these core urban problems he will have a far better connect with urban masses.

Large parts of India still depend on agriculture. Rural economy and agriculture are in doldrums. Growth in industry , services and urbanization will not cushion effects of an exploitation-ridden agriculture sector. The massive Jan Dhan Yojana platform will help in directing subsidies better, but these are ameliorative. Modi sarkar has woken up to this now. Investments in irrigation, rural electrification, broadband and roads connectivity, national market are being planned. Crop insurance scheme has been re-launched. Unless rural economy grows well, rural distress will continue.

The anger against Congress wasn’t just because of lack of development. It was also because of the huge systemic loot by the top leadership through various scams. There is also anger about the black money problem. No previous government did anything about it. Many people believe that when it comes to the crunch, the political class helps each other to cover up and escape law. This cynicism still exists even among Modi’s supporters. When Arvind Kejriwal dared Modi to put Sonia Gandhi in jail for her involvement in Augusta Westland scam, he shrewdly played on the above cynicism. People are keenly watching whether the big corrupt fishes are being brought to book. Punishing corrupt politicians and businessmen will be a key factor that will set apart Modi Sarkar from all the future contenders.

Modi’s core support base is restive because of continued anti-national activities by Maoist insurgencies, Jihadi terror and Christian evangelism. It is also upset about the discriminatory RTE law and interference in matters of Hindu temples’ traditions by Government and Judiciary. This is an area of risk for Modi Sarkar in next elections.

Bureaucracy, institutions, and judiciary are going to pose hurdles in implementing PM Modi’s development agenda. A lot depends on how he overcomes them.

BJP governments at Center and in states are doing good work in many areas but this isn’t being converted in votes. BJP is still being politically out-maneuvered by Congress. Despite a strong organization and a committed cadre, BJP’s poor performance will place more hurdles in Modi’s track. Undoubtedly, PM Modi will act on many of the above areas. There are signs that he has shifted gears. Gone are those conciliatory gestures towards Congress to get bills passed.

What will be the risks for Modi in 2019?

If we look at all the aforementioned factors, we can be reasonably confident of India’s economic growth and a revamped subsidy regime that will reach the needy people far more effectively.

However, we may not see major successes in agriculture. Creation of jobs and livelihoods may fall short of requirements. Housing and mass transportation issues are unlikely to be resolved. Given the weaknesses in investigating agencies and glacial judicial processes, we may not see many convictions of the corrupt people. Modi’s core supporters may not feel assured about their concerns mentioned above.

There may not be a Congress that is big enough to be angry with, but voters won’t be that angry with other Congress like parties which will look to fill in the void left by Congress.

This is not a criticism of the Modi Sarkar. PM Modi’s government will do a far better job than any previous government has done, but it will be seen as an incumbent in 2019. Moreover he has raised people’s expectations to unreasonable levels. Therefore Modi faces risks in winning a normal election devoid of emotional factors of national dimensions. In such situations, voting behaviors are influenced by identity politics and freebies. Despite his excellent work Modi risks falling behind his opponents who will operate at their strengths mentioned above.

How might Modi stay ahead of the curve?

Modi needs emotional factors in addition to the rational ones. The BJP hasn’t managed to connect with voters on an emotional level. The Pakistan problem provides one such opportunity. As a hub of Islamic terror and a nation with nuclear arsenal, Pakistan is world’s headache. It has kept India bleeding through thousand cuts. Whether it is cricket or war, anger towards Pakistan unites all Indians. A defanged Pakistan is good for India and the world.

This isn’t as farfetched as it seems. Given Arab states’, particularly Saudi’s, pre-occupation with economic problems due to low-oil-price-shocks, terror funds are likely to be squeezed. Further squeeze will come through global black money hunt. This process is gathering pace. Whether Pakistan becomes a truly secular welfare state or it fragments into independent Sindh, Baluchistan etc. remains to be seen. Right from the beginning of his tenure PM Modi’s foreign policy aimed to circumscribe Pakistan through diplomatic means. His moves gave him an opportunity to be ahead of the curve.

If Modi facilitates and hastens the global processes to defang Pakistan there will be very strong emotional factors in addition to the rational ones like development his favor.

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War for Congress Mukta Bharat

An edited version of this article written by Hemant Karandikar was published on indiafacts.org on 3 rd May 2016 here

The original unabridged version is below.

With Sonia Gandhi’s involvement in Augusta Westland scam being affirmed by Italian Appeals Court in its judgment, those who voted for Congress Mukta Bharat are happier. But achieving Congress Mukta Bharat will need a long war consisting of many such battles.

Modi Sarkar is doing an excellent job on economic and security fronts. PM Modi has said on several occasions that his government is working to a plan. This  plan is now unfolding at increased speed ( Read this) If elections are won purely on development work Modi Government is doing quite well and is well on its way to win another term -except that it is not all that simple.

War in pause mode?

Until August Westland expose happened Congress was calling shots inside and outside Parliament. Its eco-system of parties (like AAP and CPI) , most of the main stream media, and even institutions is still intact. Congress has been occupying disproportionate share of public discourse diverting attention from national prior rites and creating fresh obstacles for the Modi Government. A somnolent BJP (see this article) wasn’t helping matters.

Through incidents like stray cases of Church attacks, a Muslim not getting rented accommodation, A Muslim Techie’s murder, Dadri lynching, FTII strike, Rohit Vemulla’s suicide, Kanhaiya Kumar and Khaid Umar’s anti-India rants, Congress has been attacking Modi Government relentlessly. It fell upon the some of the nationalist Indians to join the battle through social media. They repelled every attack, exposed lies and put out factual details in every case. They exposed ’eminent’ journalists for what they really have been.

The War for Congress Mukta Bharat seemed to be in ‘paused’ mode  Those who wanted major change were restive.

A battle won

But the Augusta Westland bribery judgment by Italian Appeals Court gave another opportunity. BJP grabbed this with both hands. It brought Subramanyam Swami In Rajyasabha. The BJP is setting agenda of discussions in Parliament -notices for discussion and privilege motions are coming from BJP.  Sonia Gandhi and Congress are defensive for the first time in last two years. Sonia is so much on the defensive that even Sharad Pawar, her erstwhile adversary, had to be pressed in service to say that ‘BJP leaders informally admit that there is no evidence against Sonia”  ( Read )

A large number of Indians believe that the trails of corruption -in cases like Coalgate, 2 G scam, Augusta Westland and of course National Herald -lead to the door steps of top Congress Leaders.  Ishrat Jahan cover up case has added to their anger towards Sonia Gandhi who controlled the UPA government. Their wish is for thorough investigation of all corruption and terror support cases and punishing the guilty. This seems to a real possibility now.

The Congress is on back foot. The battle for perception  has gone in favor of BJP in this round.

But is the war for Congress Mukta Bharat being won? Let’s look ahead.

A war can’t be won without media cover

Even if Sonia Gandhi is convicted, conviction does automatically ensure that Congress or Sonia will be defeated electorally. Fodder scam convict Lalu could win Bihar elections. This should be a sobering thought. This is an unfortunate feature of Indian polity and its first-past-the-post electoral system which make national voting share meaningless unless the election is held under extraordinary conditions -like in 1977 (post emergency), 1984 (post Indira Gandhi’s assassination) and 2014 (hopelessness that had gripped India after UPA misrule and the anger caused by it)

Sonia and her battery of lawyers, think tanks, ‘friendly’ politicians and pliable journalists will do everything to distract attention from various scams and their involvement in them.

Even the re-galvanized BJP is no match to the Congress and Left eco-system’s masterful art of communication -they use insinuations, outright lies, mudslinging, and intellectual sophistry to great effect. With almost entire main stream media ranged against it BJP will find it difficult to sustain its aggression. When you are in government you are vulnerable to attacks based on all kinds of real or imaginary issues.

There are limitations to what a government can do.  It cannot make allegations. But a government can use its machinery to thoroughly and swiftly investigate wrong doings. Hopefully Modi Sarkar will do this. Many still have doubts about Finance Minsitry’s capabilities, if not its inclination.

As a party BJP can do what its governments can’t do. It can and should continue to charge Congress leaders with scams and bad policies based on reasonably verified facts. This can’t be just an election time exercise. BJP needs a massive media reach for setting agenda. Social media cannot match the reach of mass media in a country like India. India has smartphone user base of 220 Mn as per this report. Only 22 Mn people were use twitter as per an estimate.  About 132 Million Indians use facebook according to Marc Zuckerberg as reported here. However, twitter is a better indicator of use of social media for news and political opinions. Facebook and whatsapp groups do disseminate political content but it is limited. We can infer that political impact of social media can reach at the most single digit Crore of people. India’s recorded voter base in 2014 elections was 83.4 Crore Thus under 10% of voters can be influenced through social media.

Not having alternative media which can report facts with reasonable impartiality is a major hurdle in winning war for Congress Mukta Bharat. The new media will need content to both take on the leftist and alien agenda driven content. It will also need content to set genuine India centric reforms and agenda for future in all walks of public life -economy, social sectors, academics and sciences. Cooperation among nationalist think tanks and non-government organizations will have to be built. We don’t see anything substantial happening in this area.

Institutions -many weak zones

The government can purge the institutions of Congress sycophants and the Communists. This has not happened properly. For example, Modi Government made a hash of changes in FTII and Censor Board.

Institutions like police, investigative agencies, and judiciary present another hurdle in the war for Congress Mukta Bharat. They have inefficient, feudal, and often gamed (in favor of criminals or political benefactors) workings.  Judiciary is stonewalling every attempt towards reform and accountability.  This is outside Government’s powers. But improving policing, surveillance, prevention, and detection of crime and building convincing cases against criminals surely fall in government’s ambit. Over 3 Crore pending court cases, lakhs of under trial prisoners, poor conviction rates, postponements, stays and bails letting even convicts roaming free, and no fear of law is a true Congress legacy. Can our war be won without thoroughly overhauling these institutions and solving these problems?

Congress legacies

Our education makes us scorn our rich heritage of our civilization which was head and shoulders above other civilizations just over a thousand years back. The word Hindu has come to be scorned as backward, parochial by educated Hindus. The less educated follow traditions blindly, but they are ultimately influenced by the educated. This British legacy has been nurtured to perfection by Congress and the Leftists.  Education and academic institutions is another huge area needing overhaul for Congress Mukta Bharat. We don’t see many government actions in this crucial area.

We have laws that discriminate against Hindus. Our laws allow governments to meddle with Hindu temples and religious trusts. Our laws prohibit any interference in Islamic or Christian organizations under pretext of protecting minorities.  Recently the Supreme Court refused to give justice to a Shayara Bano, Muslim woman in her complaint about triple talaq.  In 1985 SC had granted alimony to Shah Bano but Rajiv Gandhi’s Congress government nullified it by changing the law itself. The Right to Education (RTE) does not apply to minority education institutions while it puts burden of admission to poor students only on non-minority institutions which means Hindu schools and colleges. These laws are true Congress legacies. We don’t see actions by Modi Sarkar on this.

The British encouraged Church and missionaries to undertake conversions on massive scale. Congress inherited this legacy and encouraged with the result that there is no check on this activity. Illegal migration from Bangladesh and higher than average growth in Muslim population is another factor. Both these disturb demographic balance and Hindu civilization core of India. A nationalist government is expected to arrest these trends. But we see no action at all by the BJP governments.

Another British and Congress legacy is the theory that India consists of many ethnic nationalities and India did not exist before the British. This theory is wrong and dangerous for our progress as shown by consequences of partition and creation of Pakistan. Pakistan has been bleeding India through thousand cuts.

Electoral defeats of Congress won’t be enough

Parties like SP, RJD, NCP, TMC which are steeped in Congress culture have filled void created by Congress’ losses.  Therefore, defeating Congress is not enough.

Congress Mukta Bharat will need uprooting the Congress culture -the culture of dividing and fragmenting on the basis of everything religion (partition), caste (reservations), languages (linguistic re-organization of states), ethnicity. The culture designing and perpetuating complicated system of controls, sops, exemptions, and discretionary powers for favoring or punishing. The culture of detesting anything that is Hindu and anything that predates the Muslim and British invaders.

War for Congress Mukta Bharat will need undoing Congress legacies.

Even economic prosperity for all won’t be enough.

The Constitution of India names our nation as ‘India, that is Bharat’ in Article 1(1). Bharat refers to Bharat Varsha existing for millennia and having foundations of its Hindu or Sanatana Dharma based civilization.

The war for Congress Mukta Bharat will have to be won for putting Bharat on firmly on a path towards economic prosperity, well being, and cultural glory.

This is going to be a long war. BJP, RSS, and even Modi Sarkar won’t be enough to win it. The rest of us will have to play our roles.

Is BJP Failing PM Modi?

 

This article, written by Hemant was published on Indiafacts.org website here on 12 th April 2016

BJP is the largest political party in the world’s largest democracy. It elects its office bearers through party elections. Narendra Modi, a rank outsider to the national politics, was able to stake his claim for BJP’s PM candidacy in 2014 elections after some engaging conflict with the BJP’s established order. These and such other facts show that it is a democratic party no matter what its critics say. Forget the dynasty controlled Congress, not many other parties can claim to be this democratic.

Undeterred by obstructionist Congress and its media slaves’ hit jobs, PM Modi and his government continues its good work of development, of ensuring our external security, and of protecting India’s interests abroad. Its achievements in just under two years after coming to power are too many to cover here. (Read here and here)

After Congress’ misrule for 60 years and its anti-national politics (e.g. Ishrat Jahan cover up, allowing illegal Bangladeshi immigrants to settle in India) I feel that Modi Sarkar is the best thing that has happened to India since independence. There is a tremendous hope and positivity among people (just stop reading fringe media). I think many fellow Indians will agree with me.

Modi and the BJP: Is it a winning combination?

Shouldn’t PM Modi and his party BJP be an unbeatable combination in view of the above? But is it?

PM Modi’s personal popularity remains high despite all the hit jobs by the media, but the BJP looks lost and it has lost.

Lalu-Nitish2PTIBJP lost Delhi and Bihar badly. In the April-May 2016 elections, it has high hopes in Assam, but it has already wasted opportunities in West Bengal by letting the Mamata Government off the hook for state’s poor growth and terror factories. In Tamil Nadu and Kerala it is looking to make a mark. BJP’s prospects as a whole don’t look promising.

While Modi is several steps ahead of his critics and even his supporters in the matters of governance, BJP merely reacts to events. It never sets the political agenda. Look at the top of the mind recalls given below.

Top of the Mind recalls

  1. Kanhaiya Kumar and JNU
  2. Rohith Vemulla
  3. Women not allowed in Shani Shingnapur
  4. BJP MP kicks a horse
  5. Farmer suicides
  6. Dalit reservations
  7. Vijay Mallya allowed to flee
  8. Dadri lynching (over beef)
  9. Pune techie murder
  10. A Muslim doesn’t get rented house
  11. Churches ‘under attack’

Unless you are a die-hard Modi supporter and unless you are regularly digging into social media, you will think that India is a highly violent and intolerant banana republic in which freedom of expression is severely curtailed. You will think that BJP guys are calling Kejriwal ‘a coward and a sociopath’ and that he isn’t even allowed to say anything.

You will think that Kamlesh Tiwari is getting away with blasphemy and Owaisi is jailed. You will think that RSS Chief is putting the knife to Owaisi’s throat and asking him to say ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’

You will think that Durga puja is allowed everywhere in Bengal and Muslim festivals are severely restricted. You will think that Muslim girls, not Hindu girls are getting abducted.

You will think that Kashmiri Hindus were not thrown out, but Muslims there were made homeless by the Indian State. Therefore the Kashmiri Muslims feel ‘alienation’ which finds ‘expression’ in waving Pakistani flags, celebrating India’s loss in cricket, and conferring martyrdom on Afzal Guru and Yakub.

Yakub MemonYou will think that Yakub and Afzal were martyred freedom fighters and that Savarkar and Bhagat Singh were traitors and bigots. You will think that Ph.D students in India get stipend and subsidized food for fighting the above kind of injustice by the Indian State.

You will think that nothing good is ever coming out of India.

Where is BJP?

Now where is BJP in all this? Barring Smriti Irani do you recall anyone else from BJP forcefully refuting lies and slander by Congress and its allies? Mind you, Smriti was defending herself as a cabinet minister. But where was the party amid all the above mentioned manufactured controversies? Subramanian Swamy is fighting a lone battle and BJP is not even supporting him.

Role of a political party is to develop leaders, take care of interests of core voters, to set agenda for the government and for the public discussion. It is expected to capture the reality on the ground and issues at local, state, and national levels. Its role is to provide a coherent framework for policy making. A political party in power should take its government’s good work to people and build political goodwill. A political party must stay ahead of opponents in the political space and win elections. Do you see BJP doing any of these?

BJP doesn’t raise issues related to political murders of its supporters in Kerala and West Bengal. It doesn’t raise issues of conversions of Hindus by Christian missionaries. It doesn’t protest infiltration of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh except when elections come by. It has slept through large scale demographic shifts in parts of Bengal, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Nagaland etc. brought by illegal immigration and conversions. BJP is not doing anything for social justice to Dalits and other disadvantaged groups. Patriotic Indians, which form the BJP’s core support base certainly feel let down.

Does BJP capture ground reality? In my home town Pune, BJP is missing from action despite winning all Loksabha and Assembly seats. It is dithering on the city’s public transport. At Maharashtra state level, BJP is letting the Fadnavis Government do its work while it enjoys sleep until 2019. On the national level barring President Amit Shah, it has no one who can forcefully articulate issues. Even he concentrates only on election management and campaigning.

Does the BJP develop leaders? Only partly. It has leaders in MP and Rajasthan. It lost Delhi and Bihar because it had no strong local leader there. Despite the Modi wave of 2014, the BJP could not win Maharashtra on its own (It lost Gopinath Munde, but the organization shouldn’t be so shallow)

BJP does not even provide any support for policy preparation. Modi Sarkar has to lean on a rag-tag combination of economists and NITI Ayog. If BJP has any views on the long term economic and social policies, it has not articulated them except in nebulous terms.

BJP can’t even explain Modi Government’s and its state governments’ good work in a language that is understood by the common people.

After two years in power BJP has not been able to make any dent in the Congress’ eco-system of media, ’eminent’ experts in various fields, NGOs, and various public\semipublic institutions infested with their people.

BJP Government is in power but the Indian establishment is still controlled by the Congress.

BJP is failing its Prime Minister

It is amazing that a party with about 9 Crore registered members, 282 MPs and a large number of MLAs is laggardly in its role. One can blame hostile media and entrenched institutional interests for being against BJP. But what did BJP do? Patriotic Indians on social media are fighting a valiant battle against media hit jobs and often nailing their lies – despite not being organized and through their individual efforts. BJP does not even bother to engage with the talented people who are enthusiastic, public minded, and who are willing to support the BJP governments’ good work.

I wonder if BJP office bearers monitor social media at all. They don’t engage in any issues coming up on social media (There are exceptions, but these mostly come from Modi’s ministers not party office bearers) It seems that they remain content in retweeting Modi’s or some other leaders’ tweets.

BJP was lazy in opposition (else we would not have had Sonia’s lousy laws and huge illegal immigration and conversion rackets going). In power, it is continuing in the same vein.

BJP is failing its Prime Minister.

Does it matter?

It does.A strong, dynamic party can keep its own government and the opposition governments on its toes. No matter how good Modi Sarkar is, it needs this. With correct ground level signals, the BJP could have alerted PM about agricultural crisis and the steps in this year’s budget could have been taken without wasting last year.

Were BJP aware of ground realities, it could have cautioned PM that the ‘Land Acquisition Bill’ would cause farmers unrest or it could have prepared political grounds for it. Who knows, BJP could have even won Bihar.

Even now the BJP is failing to tell the PM that urban transport is in crying need of quick mass transport fixes, which can’t wait for Smart City concept to take shape. BJP is missing a big opportunity of connecting with the urban masses on this issue, just as it missed connecting with the farmers.

If the ruling BJP in MP were alert, its government would have been pro-active on the Vyapam investigation. In Gujarat and Rajasthan it could have stopped reservation agitation from spinning out of control.

Election in 2014 was won in an extraordinary situation. As Sharad Pawar put it after the results were out: “Almost everyone wanted to throw out Congress”. Yet, Congress could get 44 MPs elected. Congress and NCP could together get over 90 MLAs elected in Maharashtra state elections of 2014. Remember Congress has bounced back from situations worse than 2014.

It will be foolishly optimistic to expect that 2019 will be won by the BJP on such a wave. BJP in its present trajectory puts Modi’s re-election to a serious risk. BJP is not just failing its Prime Minister, but it is also failing every Indian who wishes to see Achhe Din.

I hope that the BJP does a quick course correction.

written by

Hemant Karandikar

Nationalist, blogger, runner, startup mentor, design consultant. IIT Bombay alumnus. Twitter: @Hkarandikar