Rajendra Pratap Gupta | May 29, 2018
Four years ago my article, ‘BJP – Reforms Within’, was published. Now that we enter into the election year, it is a good time to reflect back on the performance.
Policies and Programmes: When it comes to policies and programmes, the government has been unbiased, well-intentioned and swift, and it set the policies right with a vision for ‘New India’. On the policy front, the government gets 8/10.
Fiscal performance, inflation and price control: This issue connects with the common man and his monthly budget. Barring the crude oil prices (which are beyond the scope of the government), the government has done exceptionally well and deserves 10/10.
Farmers & agriculture: Despite the climate change, rainfall and legacy issues, the government has thrown its might behind farmers by waiving loans, assuring the price, profit to farmers, pushing for soil health cards, and starting the National Agriculture Market (eNAM). Due to implementation issues with the states, the government gets 8/10.
Health: Healthcare costs pushes 50 million people below the poverty line and affects every family’s budget. This is the first government in history to have brought a paradigm shift in healthcare through reducing the price of stents and medicines, implementing NEET, reforming the corrupt MCI, adding thousands of medical seats in UG/PG, initiating new AIIMS, providing comprehensive primary care through health and wellness centres, dialysis centres in PPP, and launching the 5 lakh floater family health policy. It deserves an outstanding 10/10.
Education & employability: A few innovative and transformative steps have been taken but it is still a long way to go to address the real issues and hence, 5/10.
Rural India and social security: Rural electrification, toilets, gas connection to poor and through digi-grams, the government has touched the lives of rural India like never before, besides social security programmes like PMJJBY & PMSBY. The intent and actions match to give it 10/10.
Infrastructure: The government has put in a firm and an ambitious plan for roadways, airports, railways, and waterways and is working with speed. It deserves 8/10.
Job creation: Strength of the economy is finally measured in the job creation ability and the strength of its currency. But both of them are a result of long-term policies and their implementation over five to eight years. Though the government has paid enough attention to strengthen the ecosystem for job creation, and for strengthening the rupee, but the result of the efforts will show up in a few years, and so, for now, it gets 6/10.
Bold decisions: On the government’s ability to take bold decisions in the interest of the country, despite the inherent political risks, it decided to go for surgical strike, demonetisation, bringing ordinance for economic offenders, addressing NPAs, death for rapists etc. The government deserves 10/10.
Integrity and hard work: All the ministers have been ‘forced’ to work with the directions from the PM. On integrity and hard work, the PM deserves 10/10 and the ministers 6/10.
Administration through bureaucracy: This is the weakest spot for the government that, despite having a great prime minister with a grand vision, the bureaucracy has performed below par in terms of fund utilisation, programme interpretation and implementation and the government has suffered a setback because of this. The inept and inefficient bureaucracy that has let the government down on programme implementation, the government gets only 4/10.
Though it is a complex and debatable issue to rate the government’s performance, if we look at overall performance on the domestic issues and foreign policy, the government has performed good and taken historic decisions on all fronts. But certainly, some areas need drastic improvement. Finally, the report card of the government is written by the electorate, and today’s electorate is wise enough and rates the performance by stamping the ballot paper. So far, the biggest strength of the government is Modi, and for the party, it’s Amit Shah. Needless to mention, the social influence of RSS is the creator of the grounds-up movement called the BJP!
I spoke to many friends after the voting in Karnataka and I asked; Whom did you vote for? The answer was surprising: “Modi-ji”. I have had the same experience during the 2014 elections. Well, this is both good, and bad! People were voting for “Modi-ji”. This puts a lot of pressure on Modi to ensure that his government delivers. People have not voted for BJP but for Modi and this is the harsh truth. Same applies for the investors. All investors are hoping Modi will make things happen! People forget that the centre has a limited role in managing the affairs of the state or the municipalities, and for all the problems, people are hoping that since Modi is the PM and we have voted for ‘him’, he will solve the problems. It is a case of sky-high expectations from Modi. Those who have won the elections must live up to the expectations and image of the PM. This means that Modi-Shah must take elected representatives to task if they don’t deliver. Finally, will BJP win despite the recent regional setbacks? For the voters, the 2019 elections again will be a straight fight between Modi Vs the rest, and whom will you vote for – TINA. Wait, Modi still has a year to deliver!
Prof. Gupta is a leading public policy expert who drafted the election manifesto for BJP in 2014 under the chairmanship of Dr MM Joshi. Views are personal.
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This piece is based on a previous article by the authors published in Geoforum [Elsevier] in May 2019: available online: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/ S0016718519300764?via%3Dihub
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