Dr Suresh Mathew
It is time to take stock of the hits and misses of Narendra Modi Government as it completes one year on May 26. If self-appraisal is a yardstick to gauge the performance of the NDA government, one has to take note of the scathing attack by Arun Shourie, one of its senior leaders. Mr. Shourie said: “The situation is like the many pieces of a jigsaw lying in a mess with no big picture in mind about how to put them together.” He stopped short of saying that the government has no clear vision and it is moving directionless. The BJP’s senior leader gives the party nothing but heartburns and an advice to perform or perish.
The Modi government is sure to go to town drumbeating about schemes like Swachh Bharat, Jan Dhan Yojana and the three social security schemes announced recently — accident insurance, life insurance and a pension plan. But the ground reality does not bring any glory to the government. Swachh Bharat remained a photo opportunity. Less said the better about Jan Dhan Yojana as over half of the 15 crore bank accounts opened under it have zero balance. There is a catch in the newly launched three schemes as only people with bank accounts can avail the benefits, thus leaving majority of Indians out of its scope.
Ironically, some of the NDA government’s programmes are nothing but renamed versions of UPA schemes – a case of old wine in new bottle. It is also a case of NDA opting for schemes which it opposed while in opposition. A classic example is the permission for 51 per cent Foreign Direct Investment in multi-brand retail which the NDA had opposed tooth and nail before it came to power. The proposed amendments to the land acquisition Act is yet another example of the government’s closeness to corporate sector at the cost of farmers. Promises like bringing back black money have fallen by the wayside as the government is dilly-dallying on the issue.
The NDA which came to power promising good days ahead has failed miserably in keeping the communal elements in check. Activists of the VHP, the Bajrang Dal and such organisations have a field day with its leaders spewing communal venom. The controversial remarks by Minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and leaders like Giriraj Singh and Yogi Adityanath castigating Christians and Muslims are still fresh in memory. The year was equally bad for rights activists and NGOs who have been arm-twisted by the government in every possible way.
The government with a life span of five years is showing signs of exhaustion. Showcasing India around the world will not bring good days domestically. People who overwhelmingly voted for a change are feeling cheated. They now realise that the Modi government’s policies are meant to benefit corporate houses. In the short run, you can fool the ordinary mortals giving them ping-pong balls and making them believe they have been given footballs. But, in the long run, the strategy is bound to fail and the people will strike back with a vengeance.