The honeymoon period is over at the Red Fort as the Prime Minister and his ministers took charge of the respective ministries. Ministers started taking decisions and controversies – similar to the initial days of Arvind Kejriwal government at Delhi.
Even though one month is not enough to evaluate the performance of a government, the haste shown by the ministers in taking decisions in policy and controversial matters is giving us some ideas about the future of this government. We gave only one week to the Kejriwal government. So one month is not bad for assessing this new government.
In the heading I have given some clues about the content of this write up. Is there any perceivable difference between Sangh Parivar (Sangh) and Congress/Gandhi Parivar (Cong) and its Prime Ministers Narendra Modi (NaMo) and Manmohan Singh (MaMo)?
1. Congress was at the helm since 2004 and now it is the turn of BJP, a prominent Sangh Parivar based organization. So we need to compare these two parties, their policies and performances.
2. Manmohan Singh was the prime minister for the last 10 years and now it is the turn of Narendra Modi. As the prime ministers of a diverse and pluralistic (socially, culturally as well as politically) country likes India it is not wrong to think that the prime goal of both is making India a developed country. As their ‘ends’ are same it is not a bad thing to compare their ‘means’ too.
Is there Any Difference Between NaMo And MaMo?
Politically there are not much perceivable differences between Congress and BJP. The main difference between them is that BJP is a soft Hindutva party and Congress is a party which has in tandem shown favoritism towards Hindus and Muslims for canvassing their votes.
The demolition of the Masjid in Ayodhya was done by BJP led Sangh Parivar organizations and the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao and some of his Hindu ministers covertly supported the move. Rajiv Gandhi’s decision to give legal validity to the controversial personal law of Muslims after the Shah Bano Beegum case verdict is a classical example for the soft Muslim approach of the congress party. At the same time he allowed the UP government to open the Ram Mandir inside the Babry Masjid premises to appease Hindus.
Both the parties used polarization politics whenever necessary and those who used it subtly won more parliament seats to form the next government. After 10 years of Congress rule it was the BJP’s turn this time. A leader who led the BJP to a three time consecutive victory in Gujarat using this soft Hindutva strategy, Narendra Modi inevitably turned out to be the prime ministerial candidate and finally became the PM.
Among the 282 MPs of BJP there is not a single Muslim person which shows the effect of communal polarization during the election. While in Kerala and some north east states Congress played soft Christian politics as Christians are the organized vote banks in these states.
The new government is thinking about abolishing article 370 and also planning to bring about a unified civil code. Both these moves are aimed at pleasing the hard core Hindutva organizations which unanimously worked hard for the victory of BJP. So in my opinion both Congress and BJP used almost same tactics during elections to win voters and their votes.
As a prominent economist the name of Manmohan Singh will be in the history books as the savior of India during its most problematic period, the early nineties. His liberalization as well as globalization policy was considered as the key for all the perceivable developments in and around us. At the same time he is considered as the most under performing prime minister for his reign from 2009 to 2014. All the bad things which we are seeing in and around us are attributed to his poor show in this period. Is it amazing and at the same time what a contrast too, right?
Narendra Modi is praised for his quick decision making capacity. Many people are considering him as the ultimate leader India wanted at a time when all the things were going wrong. Manmohan Singh, in contrary fashion, is a slow decision maker and is not a born leader without the charisma to attract millions. Even if there are personality differences between these two we can find that the economic and social policies followed by Narendra Modi government is a ditto of the policies of the Manmohan Singh government. Just have a look:
1. Opening up of more sectors to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
The decision of Manmohan Singh government allowing FDI in retail was a controversial one but when NaMo came to power he took decisions to open up more sectors including Defense, E Commerce, etc.
2. Privatization of Public Sector Companies and Banks
Manmohan Singh was hesitated to take a strong decision in this regard even though his party supported the move. Within one week after its formation NaMo government took the decision to reduce the share of government in public sector banks to less than 49%. The remaining shares the government is holding in some big companies will also be sold out soon.
3. Decontrolling the Price of Petroleum Products
NaMo is following the same policies and within no time after assuming the office the petroleum companies increased petrol price by 2 Rs. per Liter and diesel price by another 50 paisa. Even if the rupee has appreciated by about 9 rupees against Dollar, the government has not yet taken any decision to reduce the price of petrol.
4. The government already increased Railway travel fare and Transportation Charges
Season ticket charges also increased which will affect daily goers like students and other low income groups. The government is planning to increase the price of subsidized LPG cylinders by Rs. 10/- per month.
5. Subsidies and Aadhaar
The decision for linking LPG subsidies with Aadhar was one of the reasons for the worst performance of UPA in these elections. But when NaMo came to power he is planning to follow the same thing with some small changes- NPR instead of Aadhaar.
6. Price of locally produced Natural Gas
It is now in the news that natural gas price will be increased within weeks against the wish of common people as well as the electricity and fertilizer companies. So there is no difference between Veerappa Moily and Dharmendra Pradhan, the consecutive chair holders of petroleum ministry.
7. In one side NaMo is Inculcating the Need for Protecting the Environment and Forest
But he is gearing up for giving environmental clearance for projects worth 80000 Crores. Congress government also has taken such decisions in the last minute before elections. Thousands of acres of forest will be destroyed once the same will come into effect.
8. NaMo Government Is keen in Creating Conducive Environment for Investment
BJP demanded the reduction of interest rates by RBI when they were in the opposition benches. But the reserve Bank governor Raghuram Rajan, another prominent economist, did not support the move as inflation is still on the higher side. Even after the meeting with finance minister Arun Jaitley the policy rates still remain the same. This will be reviewed only after two months. The inflation due to the price rise of food grains and vegetables are in turn closely linked with the fuel, fertilizer and transportation prices. The situation has further worsened as the crude prices are on the rise due to the war between separatists and Iraqi government.
So the prices of essential commodities may increase now so mayinflation. Those who are affected by the higher interest rates are money crunching MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) as most of the Indian corporate houses have surplus funds.
Some of the actions of NaMo government making us doubtful that whether he is committed to common people who have given him the power or whether he is committed to the corporate houses who have given him enough funds for his election campaign. But one thing he should keep in mind- corporate houses may swing towards opposition if the government is not supporting them but it will not affect the government.
However, if the common people decide to swing, the government will ultimately lose its power. Congress government met with the same and one of their top leaders pinpointed this in the AICC meeting when they discussed the reasons for such a big defeat in the elections.
Many people think that the significance of the left and the AAP in India is minimized now and ultimately both of them will vanish soon due to the internal conflicts and the external political factors. If the government is taking actions to please only the corporate houses and decides to go against the wishes of the common people, I am sure that the people will again support these political parties.
But for keeping the confidence of the common people, both the parties should give help and support to solve the problems faced by them in a democratic way. Reunification of socialist movement in India will be an essential thing which would much depend on the approach of the NaMo government towards the weaker sections of the society.
If the government is showing more leniencies towards corporate houses it will add fuel to fire. Most of the middle class people in a mixed economy like India are against left parties considering them as anti development people. Media also support this view. But a strong left wing is a must to protect the marginalized sections of our society and also to maintain the dignity of the common people which they will realize only in the absence of such a movement.
The economic parameters/indicators like Current Account Deficit (CAD), share market indices, foreign currency conversion rates, foreign currency reserves, etc. are in an optimum state since the election days itself. So a good platform is already there for NaMo government to perform well. But so far the functioning of the government is not at par with the expectations of the common people except their decision to form a special investigation team to bring back black money.
The BJP ministers continye appeasing the hard core Hindus by openly discussing issues like article 370, unified civil code, etc. Najma Heptulla’s comments like ‘Muslims are not minorities’ and ‘reservation is not a means for solving the problems faced by Muslims’, etc. were received with applauds by members of Sangh Parivar which we can see from their comments in the social media.
Let me conclude. The common man still believe that NaMo will perform well and will be instrumental in rewriting the history of India. Will he considered as the next savior after Manmohan Singh like in 1991 or will he considered as a destroyer after Manmohan Singh in his second term as PM from 2009 to 2014? Let’s wait and watch.
By: Vinod Kuroor
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