Shekhar Gupta: How does one explain NaMo's waning elan?

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Shekhar Gupta: How does one explain NaMo's waning elan?

Post by Rashmun on Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:02 pm

There were three prongs to the spectacular BJP/Modi campaign in 2014: achhe din (better days), a muscular national security policy and the fight against corruption. Of these, the third had packed the greatest degree of hype: the promise of recovery of lakhs of crores of stolen money, the return of so much Indian black money that every Indian could be sent a gift-cheque of Rs 15 lakh, the prompt arrest and prosecution of all corrupt and powerful people, beginning of course with Robert Vadra.

This is the horse a clever ruler would have gotten off first, after it had taken him to his destination. The Modi government fell in love with it. The balance sheet at, say, the 42-month mark has very little to show on this count. A few raids and meandering cases against defeated rivals, a new reign of tax terror and very little recovered wealth. If anything, the one powerful “crony-capitalist crook” the government could have made an example of, Vijay Mallya, escaped and sadistically rubs his finger in India’s eye from Britain.

Demonetisation was one audacious, if poorly thought out move that, it is quite evident now, failed to uncover any black money, whatever it may have done to enhance the use of digital cash. It ended up being disruption for disruption’s sake. It left the unorganised sector and supply chains devastated and combined with an already slowing economy to produce this awful job distress. It also narrowed the government’s stabilisation window for GST by creating a scorched-earth situation for the micro and small-scale economy in the months leading up to GST implementation....

From banking reform to financial reconstruction, bullet train to Navi Mumbai airport, to choosing a new medium fighter aircraft to be made in India, time is running out in this NDA term. How could a leader as energetic and astute as Narendra Modi have left it for so late?

Here’s a hypothesis. The headiness of 2014 and subsequent state election wins persuaded the BJP to take a second term for granted. It presumed it had the time and space to use its first term mainly for political conquest of all of India and destruction of all opposition, national or regional, however small and distant. Once total, unchallenged power was secured, there would be plenty of time in subsequent terms for the more thankless job of governance, like a dominant team taking it easy in the first innings and leaving the hard work for the second. But cricket isn’t the only game of glorious uncertainties. Politics, if anything, is less forgiving, and doesn’t appreciate complacency. That is one explanation for the Modi government’s waning elan.


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