When Promises Tend to Outrun Performance

Has the Narendra Modi government abysmally failed to deliver anything substantial during the past one year? Has the Prime Minister personally failed to live up to the aspirations and hopes that he himself raised during his euphoria inducing election campaign?

Narendra Modi, while on his campaign rampage, may scarcely have imagined, let alone expected, a mandate of such magnitude, requiring him to not merely perform, but outperform his “Achhe Din” dream platter. As a result he is perhaps caught off guard by the possible fall out of not fulfilling all his promises.

Modi may have failed on a number of fronts and his detractors can confidently produce, for public consumption, reams of statistics to prove their view point. But, at the same time, there is no denying the fact that Modi had inherited a totally paralyzed and lacklustre regime from the previous UPA Government.The sell out dream slogan –“Achhe Din Aayenge” — implied a rather miraculous recovery which embedded a glimmer of hope in the hearts of millions of Indians who voted for the NDA as an investment for country’s future.

Narendra Modi has landed in Delhi with the resolve to stay in the Union Capital for a long innings. His track record of administration and organizational work bear testimony to the fact that he is not a man who would ever accept defeat. Therefore, there are no chances of his returning to Gandhinagar or to the organizational fold of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). The Prime Minister must also be aware that for the kind of aura that he has created for himself will require him to act faster than he has in the last 365 days. Otherwise his government will take a battering that could leave it badly scarred, dented and damaged.

Without joining the debate on the NDA government’s performance and how much has been done for the good of the “120 Crore Bhartiyas”, one thing emerges clearly. Modi has single-handedly and strategically changed the dynamics and rules of politics in India. The Prime Minister, without making any noise, also effected changes in the body language of the Bharatiya Janata Party at the national level. Not surprisingly, he did not face any resistance from any quarter as everyone was, rightly or wrongly, given the impression that all was being done with the blessings of Nagpur.

It must not have been an easy task for Modi to systematically sideline the established party stalwarts and create a hierarchy of his own trusted lieutenants. Undoubtedly, the carefully calculated exercise ultimately did lead to creating a fear psychosis within the ranks of the BJP while simultaneously giving rise to suspicion in some quarters of the Sangh about the actual agenda of the Prime Minister. That Modi very selectively trusts people in Delhi, whether in the party or in the bureaucracy, dogs his every step.The induction of Amit Shah as a close confidant has added to the general opinion of Modi’s preference for close allies, irrespective of the general perception about them.

The report cards of Modi’s cabinet colleagues, being presented, circulated and shown on TV channels, claim that most of the ministers have either not performed or have performed below the level of expectations. Who should be asked to shoulder the blame for this situation? When asked about this, a senior member of the party maintained: Modiji wants to do hundreds of things. There are senior ministers in his cabinet who were in the race for the prime ministership. There are some Chief Ministers who were also publicly projected as equally competent for the top post and their performance is not being questioned. There are governments in some of the States which are being ruled by the parties opposed to BJP in general and Modi in particular. All these factors are not being taken into account while assessing the performance of the government in the last one year.

But,on the other hand,it is also being alleged that the Prime Minister has not succeeded in imparting confidence to his Cabinet colleagues and bureaucrats for taking ownership of any decisions they may take.

What would happen to the report cards when the government completes its second year? Or may be its entire five-year term! The World Bank had in January this year predicted that India would become world’s fastest growing economy in the fourth year of Modi’s government, clocking a seven per cent rise in GDP in 2017. Would these predictions come true? Let us hope that Modi himself is strictly marking his own government’s performance, unbiasedly and objectively.

The question therefore remains—if not Modi, who else could take over as the Prime Minister? Do we have enough choices available? Who from within and without the NDA can be trusted for taking over the responsibility? Rahul Gandhi? Arvind Kejriwal? Nitish Kumar? Jayalalithaa? Mamata? Mulayam Singh? The millions of people who had reposed their confidence in Modi and brought him to power in the hope that only he is the best bet to meet their aspirations, will ultimately force the Government to act more vigorously. After all Modi’s promise versus Modi’s performance will be the acid test. The people will also force Modi to change himself and at least appear to be liberal in accommodating opponents who carry dissenting opinions.