2015: A forgettable year for Modi and the Bhartiya Janata Party
If 2014 was the most remarkable year in BJP’s political history with an absolute majority on its own for the first time in LS elections and subsequently forming governments in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and J&K, 2015 has been quite a forgettable year for Bhartiya Janata Party and Modi. Though it began with the Modi – Obama jamboree during Republic day visit of Obama, the party was quickly over by the unexpected 67-3 win of AAP in Delhi Assembly elections that routed the party in Delhi much to the bafflement of the leadership. The last minute lateral entry of Kiran Bedi as the CM candidate also misfired. Despite a triangular fight including Congress, it turned out to be a completely one sided affair with AAP sweeping the Assembly elections.
That was followed by an even larger setback in Bihar given the stakes involved in that election. The combined opposition proved a formidable barrier to clear, and despite Modi and Shah launching their most aggressive campaign, Biharis treated them as Baharis and voted decisively for Nitish – Lalu – Cong Mahaghatbandhan. Two crucial assembly elections were lost. Amidst all these electioneering, two of the important Parliamentary sessions during Monsoon and Winter were completely washed out by persistent Opposition disruptions that put to a halt key legislative reforms that were expected of the Government including Land bill, GST, among others.
While land bill has been practically dropped, after having not been able to garner the much necessary consensus across the political spectrum, the GST bill despite getting a consensus from almost all parties including Congress CMs, is still awaiting RS clearance. So are many other crucial bills including Banking reforms, labour reforms and such. It was pathetic to see a handful of Opposition party members getting into the well of the house each day and make a tamasha of protest with the sole aim to disrupt Parliamentary proceedings.
But what was even more pathetic was BJP’s passive and rather lackadaisical approach to the aggressive opposition that seized the narrative and dominated the news coverage with false allegations like Lalitgate on Sushma, Vyapam on Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Vasundharagate, Dadri lynching, Patidar movement, intolerance debates and now latest DDCA scam involving Arun Jaitley that saw one of Bhartiya Janata Party ‘s own MPs getting suspended. As it turned out to be, most of these were just media hype and no real substance and the response of Bhartiya Janata Party to that was either total indifference or passive aggressive repartees. The absence of a clear strategy to counter the optics and acoustics created by Opposition was so glaringly conspicuous, one wondered if Bhartiya Janata Party was unsure of how to tackle this or was deliberately allowing it to happen.
A party with 282 MPs in LS, and 336 in total with alliance partners and more than 100 million party workers / members and the most articulate PM who tweets for the drop of a hat on anything or has a direct Mann ki baat communication with people, could not handle the counter to this narrative effectively as much as what Jyoti Singh’s (Nirbhaya’s) parents who are just ordinary citizens could manage to put pressure and press that Juvenile Justice Bill in RS at the last moment is something they would like to ponder seriously. All the more because even the allied partners like Shivsena or Shiromani Akali Dal would not come to actively voice their support of the Bhartiya Janata Party. That when the party is able to work in coalition with an ideologically polar opposite PDP quite successfully. Whether they like it or not these did have some impact in the perception management that was visible in the electoral results, including some losses in local body elections and by-elections in MP and even Gujarat, but for some marginal success in Kerala and Karnataka.
What it also did in the process was to cloud some of the remarkable achievements of the Government like rural electrification, toilet building, road building, railways improvement, PAHAL, MUDRA, social security insurance schemes, pension schemes and stellar achievements in foreign policy and the massive Digital India campaign that is on. Unfortunately the din and the dust created by all the negatives mostly on non-existent scams or fears, took the centre stage and relegated these to the backyard. Some of these initiatives are quite critical and have been achieved against decades old set bureaucratic hurdles and legacies that aren’t easy to circumvent or overcome. Yet it was achieved shows the ability of the current political leadership in dealing with executive reforms despite the lethargy shown in tackling the legislative business – as in unless we get full majority or total consensus we cannot move ahead.
Time is running out fast and patience of the voters as well as international investing community even faster. If you could see only in FDI we had scored well over the last seventeen months. FIIs inflows who were upbeat post the election victory last year have substantially dropped and that is reflected in Capital markets as the BSE is still hanging around at the same levels as in May 2014. This is because of the perception that big ticket reforms are taking too much time to happen. With Fed increasing its rate after a decade or so for the first time, and emerging markets not being attractive anymore, it is going to be even more challenging in the coming year to attract FIIs unless there are some swift steps taken, for which Bhartiya Janata Party and Modi need to have their act together in place to handle the Budget session and the subsequent ones better.
2015 was indeed a forgettable year for Modi and the Bhartiya Janata Party, hopefully the Bhartiya Janata Party will take the lessons from 2015 and try to seize the initiative back, in 2016.
Pic courtesy : morningflash
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