Source: The Hitavada      Date: 26 May 2018 10:31:37

WHEN he took over as Prime Minister of India having led the Bharatiya Janata Party to a clear majority-win in the Lok Sabha elections four years ago, Mr. Narendra Modi had done a little numerical jugglery by converting his tenure of five years into months. He had said, in effect, five years meant sixty months. In other words, he was actually putting upon his own Government a harsher limitation of time that would end in just sixty months. That time, the nation had admired Mr. Modi’s sense of urgency and commitment to the cause of national reconstruction. As he completes four years -- that is 48 months -- as Prime Minister on May 26, 2018, Mr. Modi stands at an important cross-roads in contemporary history, looking back on his tenure so far with satisfaction, and looking forward to more time at the helm with an eager anticipation of greater achievement. For the nation, too, this is a moment of great significance.

Notwithstanding the political anti-propaganda by the Opposition, there is every reason for the Prime Minister, his party, and the people to celebrate the event. For, in this trying period, the Modi Government did well on all fronts. The most important aspect of its performance has been the Prime Minister’s ability to communicate with the masses. He led the communications campaign from the front and engaged the common people in a positive discourse about national situation.

The most critical has been the national economy. Opposition’s propaganda war apart, the Modi Government took very major steps -- such as demonetisation and introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) -- produced tremendously positive results. Initially, the people did harbour a few doubts about the the two moves. Subsequently, however, everything settled down to favourable outcome from every possible angle. Schemes of inclusive finance for poor people -- like the Jan Dhan Yojana -- proved to be rare boon for the nation’s deprived classes. The efforts to cleanse the banking sector, the successful moves to pin down the bigwigs engaged in massive corruption, and the initiatives for medium and small industries are now being appreciated by the global institutions as well as other Governments.

If the success on the economic front yielded positive results, sectors such as defence production and large industry, too, registered a very healthy growth, thanks to the initiatives such as ‘Make In India’. All that good work came for a massive appreciations at the platforms such as the World Economic Forum and the World Bank. But the most important factor to be recalled with pride about the performance of the Modi Government is its successful forays into the global diplomacy. The Prime Minister’s initiatives such as Neighbourhood First; Look East; Engage West have produced results that India had never imagined in the past several decades. Indian diplomacy flowered under Mr. Modi’s leadership mainly thanks to his reasonable leaning on the military factor. He proved to be the first ever Indian leader who successfully leveraged the military factor to let the world know that India would always be a tough customer to deal with, a clear diversion from the tame and timid practices of the past.

There is little doubt that all these initiatives put together have given India some push in the right direction. Yet, much distance is still to be covered and the nation has to endure in all these initiatives for a long time to reach a reasonable level of success.When Mr. Modi took over as Prime Minister, the nation’s overall confidence in itself was down in the dumps. Ten years of insipid rule under the Congress party had left the country trapped in what was globally derided as policy paralysis. Mr. Modi’s best contribution is in this area -- of pulling the country out of that paralytic condition. Today, the world looks at India as a vibrant nation, an appreciation that never came India’s way earlier.

Domestically, however, the challenges are many and difficult. For, corruption is still rampant, and the common people still do not see much evidence of good governance at all places. But this lacuna also can be linked to the a crass political culture in which election was the only goal before every party. With the advent of Mr Narendra Modi, the focus on election did not change, but the method and manner did. In the past four years, the people saw the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies growing in their influence all over the country. Though politically non-committal people did not appreciate the concept of Congress-Mukt Bharat, they did realise that much of the bad political culture had been originally a gift of the Congress party. This realisation has helped the BJP to expand its circle of influence in every part of the vast country and continue its run of success.

It is this aspect that has disturbed the political Opposition beyond words. All the opponents are now trying to build a common front to oust Mr. Narendra Modi and his Government in the next Lok Sabha elections a year later. However, going realistically, this may not be possible, thanks to the strong political organisation and cadre the BJP has been able to build for itself. If the Opposition dreams of beating the BJP in elections, then it will have to build such a cadre-based organisation as that of the BJP. This is one thing that appears almost impossible. From that angle, thus, the BJP appears to be an entity that cannot be challenged by the combined strength of the Opposition.

Taking into consideration the entire national scenario, it must be admitted that the strides that Mr. Modi and his Government have made possible could not have been there minus the Prime Minister as a leader of the nation and the party. Though he has often talked of collectivism within his party, the fact cannot be overlooked that the Modi factor has made all the difference -- positive to his own party and the Government, and negative to all the Opposition parties.
Fortunately, the people know this very well.