‘Jobs vs Jingosim’ is how a contemporary described the two conflicting narratives that Congress and the BJP are banking on. In each of his political rallies and the interviews he has granted during the past few days, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has tried to paint himself as a nationalist and a decisive leader while accusing the opposition of waffling on national security.
The opposition, not surprisingly, has criticized the PM for making the announcement of an anti-satellite missile rather than allow the DRDO chief or a scientist to do it. Congress leader P. Chidambaram tweeted that it is a foolish government which makes its capabilities public.
Modi and the BJP are banking on their ‘Bramhastra’ (the ultimate weapon) of nationalism to take care of criticism for their failure to deal with the economy, create jobs, unearth black money and reduce corruption. They have been on the back foot on performance, for weakening institutions. But the Bramhastra of Balakot air strike, they believe can not only divert attention from these issues but also counter Rahul Gandhi’s bold declaration on a minimum income guarantee scheme for the poorest 20%.
The entire machinery of the government—its Blogging and Tweeting ‘court jesters’, hero-worshipping ministers and sundry experts and fawning commentators—has scrambled to denounce the NYAY scheme even before the Congress releases its manifesto and gives more details.
It is amusing to find sundry economists, twitter users and commentators, not to mention Modi and his worshipping army, have rushed to pronounce their verdict against NYAY. No such eagerness or economic foresight was visible when Modi and his party were making tall and manifestly outlandish promises during the previous Lok Sabha poll and continued to do so while in office.
The most bizarre of Modi’s promises about crediting Rs 15 lakh into each citizen’s account was not challenged because of its irresistible popular vote-catching appeal? Much after the polls, it was dismissed as a ‘Chunavi Jumla’ when it ought to have been widely denounced as a devious way in which the BJP and Modi ensnared gullible voters.
None of the stated objectives of demonetisation—end of black money, corruption and terror—has been attained. The Modi Sarkar remains untainted despite the devastation it caused to the country’s economy. In fact, quite a few of Modi Bhakts—politicians and ‘economists’—keep singing paeans to it!
As prime minister, Modi let loose a string of announcement which were supposed to make India strong, self-reliant in many basic requirements and accelerate the process of development. The flood of alluring promises continued with assurance of jobs and housing for all, eradicating the practice of open defecation, cleaning up the ‘sacred’ rivers and so on.
While these promises began to look unachievable within months of announcement, Indians were forced to divert their attention to vigilantism by the followers of the ruling party.
Perhaps for the first time in free India a government has gone out of its way to hide statistics prepared by its own officials because they were not flattering.
‘Experts’ have become shy of questioning the government but keep their attention fixed on the Opposition even as official statistics are tweaked, twisted and hidden. How many of the so-called welfare schemes announced by Modi have undergone close scrutiny?
It is necessary to question the policies and programmes of both the ruling party and the Opposition. But what is all too evident in the ‘New India’ of Modi is that the ruling dispensation has been absolved of accountability and responsibility for failures and shortcomings in governance.
All announcements of the government are assumed to be ‘doable’ even when independent evaluation points in the other direction.
The upshot of all this is that the government has been allowed to get away with the misleading impression that Modi has been sincere in his efforts and his failures, if any, are the result of impediments by the ‘anti-national’ ! The successes are his and his alone. His failures are all due to the opposition and perhaps the first Prime Minister !