During the 2019 marathon poll campaign, why did Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his associates try to run away from the real issues the people are faced with? The answer to this question is simple: it must be unpalatable to the ruling elite to talk about the failures of the promises that were held out to the voters in 2014. Let me recall some glaring gaps in the promises and performance in ushering in The idea is not to debunk PM Modi but to pinpoint how not to handle Democratic India and its complex ground realities.
First, Narendra Modi had promised to bring down the spiraling petrol, diesel and essential goods prices. But in view of his preoccupation with overseas trips, he apparently could not break the vicious cycle of inflation.
Second, Modi’s promise to create one crore jobs yearly for young voters now looks like chasing a “mirage”. It is reported that only 4.16 lakh jobs were created in the organized sector during 2016-17. Despite high-profile push to generate jobs through manufacturing, much of foreign direct investment has flown into services and capital-intensive industries, not to labour-intensive ones. This speaks of PM Modi’s misplaced economic vision for the complexities of India’s ground realities.
His dream project of Demonetisation only played havoc in the country’s informal sector of the economy. Lakhs of workers lost their jobs and have since then been struggling for survival. I don’t see even crocodile tears in Narendra Modi’s eyes for his demonetization failure. This shows his lack of understanding of rural India’s ground realities.
A closer look at PM Modi’s 92 overseas visits to 57 countries never resulted in giving the country the desired results as officially claimed. In fact, his “active diplomacy” could not inject resources to boost the sagging economy. A member of his economic think tank has given a gloomy picture of the country’s development economy. The GDP is not projected to grow at 6.9 per cent in 2018-19.
Rathin Roy, member of PM Modi’s Economic Advisory Council, says that the Indian economy is running the risk of a structural crisis and could soon be trapped in a “middle income trap”, eventually becoming like Brazil or South Africa “with a large number of people in poverty seeing rising crimes”.
What happened to Modi’s claim that India is growing as the world’s fastest economy? Even one of the most ambitious projects of PM Modi, “Make in India” has not been able to give the expected response from overseas investors. The project was expected to create more jobs, but today’s jobless reality speaks louder than PM Modi’s rhetoric at public rallies.
The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) says that the unemployment rate in India rose to 7.2 per cent in February 2019, the highest since September 2016, and up from 5.9 per cent in February 2018. The absence of adequate jobs growth, weak farm prices, farmers’ distress and their suicides are matters of grave concerns despite PM Modi’s brave postures? He never bothered about visiting houses of farmers who committed suicide!
Inflation, rural distress and low farm incomes have made life miserable for ordinary villagers. Perhaps, the Modi government seems to have “bitten off more than it could chew”. What is disquieting is there are no signs of regret on the part of PM Modi for his failure to deliver the promises held out in 2014. Instead, we see concerted efforts to divert the people’s attention to non-issues or superficial matters like Nationalism, Security, Cow Protection and twisting of historical facts to mislead the people on India’s earlier ruling leaders of the Congress. His obsession with the Congress leaders while magnifying their “failures” is to be seen to be believed!
Take his take on how India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had humiliated two military icons – Field Marshall Cariappa and General K S Thimayya. The fact is K S Thimayya was not the commander-in-chief of the Indian army in 1948, nor was Krishna Menon the defence minister then, as was claimed by P M Modi during his Karnataka election campaign.
He was equally wrong in claiming the Congress leaders never bothered to visit freedom fighter Bhagat Singh and others in jail. The truth, however, was that Jawaharlal Nehru did visit Bhagat Singh in prison and publicly expressed concern about martyr Bhagat Singh’s “poor health” condition.
My point is simple: How could the Prime Minister of India’s vibrant democracy thrive on selling “lies” and half-lies publicly? These are not isolated cases. There seems to be a pattern in misleading the voters. Could it be due to his rising arrogance emanating for power? Perhaps. A report on fact-checking website has listed Modi’s “half-truths and whole lies”.
Delhi-based political analyst Krishan Pratap Singh has reportedly said both Trump and Modi “seem afflicted with the need to manufacture facts and alter history to suit their political purposes almost every time they speak in public”. The claims Trump has made 2,140 false statements in the first year in office itself.
Mercifully, PM Modi has not gone to the Trump level. But whatever falsification he might have done about selective Gandhi-Nehru brands of Congress leaders is in itself quite disquieting. Take his latest decrying of Rajiv Gandhi’s days as PM. This is in bad taste for India’s democratic PM, to say the least. Such things do not add to the credibility of the office of Prime Minister he holds.
Looking at his nature of campaigning, the PMO today stands devalued. So is the case of BJP President Amit Shah. The Modi-Shah duo has demolished the edifice of the saffron party which Atal Behari Vajpayee had built with considerable pains. He knew how to observe the and govern India.
This hurts me immensely since I was once an ardent supporter of Narendra Modi. He then showed some signs of hope of being qualitatively different. But nothing of the sort has happened as he completes five years as PM.
Historian Ramchandra Guha says that “these lies, half lies and falsehoods are willed and deliberate and that Modi “will do anything at all to win an election”. Do we deserve the Prime Minister who makes tall promises without fulfilling them or by “peddling “false history”?
May I remind Narendra Modi that the politics of expediency may make or unmake individuals but it cannot make a nation great. My main concern is to provide a true mirror of the India today, and there is no need to indulge in gimmickry. We have to be honest to our people. Our disparities and contrasts are so sharp that a number of bridges of understanding will have to be built for our nation-building. For this, our leaders have to come to the brass tacks of key issues on a priority basis.