Having completed two years in office with a number of promises yet to fulfilled, the Narendra Modi led NDA government at the Centre had much to celebrate during the course of the week. The government may not have scored 100% marks in areas such as governance and development, yet it remains on course for achieving its overall political objective of a “Congress Mukt Bharat” (A Congress free India).
Modi has proved that he is the most successful mascot for his party, despite the fact that his popularity has waned since the BJP came to power in 2014. However, he remains the tallest political leader in the country, given that there is hardly any challenge from his main opponents from the Congress, and as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley aptly put it, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is in no position to anchor a national alliance against the NDA.
Throughout this week, Modi and his ministers, as well as senior functionaries of the BJP, showcased the achievements of their government in an attempt to silence critics who have questioned the failure of several ministries to attain their targeted goals. A minus point is that the Prime Minister has been in a constant campaign mode and as a consequence has not been able to live up to the expectations of the youth, who reposed their full faith in his leadership in the last parliamentary polls.
In fact, the government, while highlighting its achievements, has not been outspoken about its scorecard on several points such as battling inflation, arresting rising prices, generating employment and its determination of unearthing black money. The government has attempted to offset its shortcomings by flaunting its corruption free record seen as a big contrast vis-a-vis the tainted and scam ridden last few years of the UPA government. It is true as well that the present regime has not provided ideal governance though some of the ministers have done remarkably well. Modi has kept track of his non performing ministers and they could be eased out when the re-shuffle takes places shortly. BJP chief Amit Shah on Friday gave sufficient indications that a Cabinet rejig was on cards, though he did not give a timeline for this to happen.
To be fair to the Prime Minister, it has taken two years for many of his colleagues to settle down, given their inexperience to deal with mega issues at the Centre. Modi himself is also aware of their limitations and while encouraging them to carry on with their work, has monitored their performance silently. He will pronounce his judgement on the day of the reshuffle, when ministers may either get dropped or moved to other departments that are compatible with their ability.
Modi’s greatest asset is his knack for assessing the political situation down to the last letter and thereby humbling his opponents, with the timing as well as disclosures. The Congress, for instance, is gasping for breath after sensational revelations which show its leadership in poor light. The NDA government may not have collected sufficient evidence as yet to nail its political opponents, but has been successful in creating a perception against them.
The result is that the Congress leadership is struggling to clear its name in charges being levelled against it through a carefully planned and executed campaign. Perception is very important in politics and it is on this front that Modi has reaped dividends. Given that there has been a marginal diminishment in his popularity chart, he has ensured that the graph of the Gandhi family in particular remains at its lowest ebb, thus posing no threat to his overall political dominance.
The Prime Minister is an exceptional communicator who needs to now use this skill to send down a strong message to his party and ministerial colleagues. They need to be firmly told to emulate Modi’s tough and punishing schedule to work towards excellence. There can be no half measures while executing government policies and every minister has to be made conscious of this. Simultaneously, there are elements within the BJP that seek to constantly push the clock of time backwards. They should be singled out and told to rectify their ways in order for this regime to get universal acknowledgement.
The recent poll results have given the BJP a leg up since it has managed to score an emphatic victory in Assam, a key border state described as its gateway to the Northeast. The party must not squander this opportunity created due to the unsatisfactory functioning of the Congress. At the same time, it should ready itself for the uphill task in UP, where it has 73 MPs, but would find the going really tough.
The Assembly polls next year may not necessarily herald in good news. Therefore, to offset an adverse eventuality, the Central government must cover itself with greater glory when it celebrates its three years in office. Modi is capable of a long innings and the BJP must consolidate its position while he is still at the crease. In Robert Frost’s words, he has promises to keep and miles to go before he sleeps. The Prime Minister should concentrate on his pre-poll pledges. Between us.