As we near the first phase of elections for the 2019 General Elections, it is important to study the nature of criticism of the Narendra Modi government from the Opposition parties (this includes the English media because frankly, I can’t tell the difference between the two!) over the past 5 years. We will not talk about the failed attempts of intolerance, fascism, emergency, and hatred because they have been beaten to death. There are many other alleged criticisms that occupied significant space in our discourse.
Narendra Modi is always in campaign mode
More than the opposition, the English media has excessively focused on this allegation. So much that even speeches in Lok Sabha were termed as “campaign” speeches. The opposition and the media have never cared to tell us what they meant by “campaign mode”. If by “campaign mode”, they mean that the Prime Minister of India is traveling across the country, is addressing meetings attended by citizens, is communicating with them on the various schemes his government has introduced, is exposing the flaws in opposition arguments and seeking feedback from the people – then I would rather he is in campaign mode than sitting in Delhi and sipping chai!
Narendra Modi’s continuous and direct communication with the people of India has been a boon. We now do not have to rely on traditional media sources to know what he is saying or what he is doing. We get to know more details of the various schemes listening to him than watching the dreaded TV shows every evening!
Narendra Modi doesn’t talk to the press
Unless they don’t consider The Tribune, PTI, Network 18, Indian Express, India Today, Zee News, Times Now, CNN, Hindustan Times, Dainik Jagran, Nai Duniya, Hindusthan Samachar, UNI, ANI, ABP News, Republic, YourStory, Time Magazine, – as media, then I accept, the Prime Minister is indeed not talking to the media.
This fixation of certain sections that only a press conference indicates interaction with the press is really amusing beyond a point. The Prime Minister has answered every single question put to him (some uncomfortable too). Not just the Prime minister, all ministers of the government have given umpteen interviews to various channels/papers. The President of the BJP very regularly faces tough questions from angry anchors. Guess how doesn’t face any tough question? Rahul Gandhi! And yet his coterie has the gumption to tell us that Modi doesn’t talk to the press!
Narendra Modi is a one-man show. He runs the country from the Prime Ministers Office.
Rahul Gandhi’s most amusing criticism of Narendra Modi was that he runs the country from the PMO! Come to think of it, it is perhaps not amusing coming from Rahul Gandhi, because they are used to running the country from 10 Janpath. It is in fact very difficult for them to digest that the designated office for the person-in-charge of the government is the PMO and not their home.
If, as this particular criticism claims, Modi was really a one-man show, why would he let so many ministers and leaders flourish under him? Why is it that almost every minister gets unequivocal praise from all quarters? Why is Sushma ji feted so much? Why are ministers like Piyush Goyal and Nitin Gadkari often called the best performers? Why would Nirmala Sitharaman be given so many opportunities to make her point in the Parliament? Why would Rajnath Singh be given a free hand at Home Ministry and be the reason for some phenomenal successes? I can go on and on, but if Modi were really a one man show, we wouldn’t even be discussing any minister or ministry. Today, India’s discourse is enriched when we hear good details about various programs from all ministers. Not unlike a political party where only one voice is important and everything else is just noise!
Narendra Modi travels a lot
First some facts – Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (UPA-2) made 38 visits abroad. Prime Minister Narendra Modi made 48 visits (as of Dec 2018). Are 10 more visits really such a big deal to worry about? In today’s interconnected global world, aren’t foreign visits a very important part of any Prime Minister’s agenda?
Did Narendra Modi go to these trips to enjoy the travel? In fact, he planned many of his trips so that he and his delegation can sleep in the plane itself, so as to gain time! We can reel out more statistics (would refer you to this article for details on what these visits and a robust foreign policy achieved), but here is one very important fact to be kept in mind – the supremely positive reaction of the world after our airstrikes in Balakot, Pakistan; and the successful testing of our A-SAT capabilities. The massive support wouldn’t have been possible without some smart foreign policy and that is precisely what Modi’s trips have achieved for India.
A worse criticism was put forth by and Shekhar Gupta’s Print. That Prime Minister Modi traveled out of Delhi, to other parts of India, every 5th day. I still fail to even see what is there to criticize when the Prime Minister of India travels frequently within India! If you are able to see reason in this criticism, please do share your thoughts!
Petrol and Diesel Prices
Barring a steep increase for a few days, today’s prices are on par with what we used to pay in May 2014. For the few days that prices went up, the uproar that was created by the media felt like some major disaster was coming! Today, no media talks about how we pay similar amount as 2014 – the bottom line being that for a vast majority of the past 5 years, we paid either lesser or on par with the 2014 rates. As is evident, this criticism as well does not stick.
GDP Growth is falling; Economy is failing
For one quarter, the GDP growth fell to under 6%. And yet again we had to witness a huge meltdown of our English media journalists. They had lost all sense of proportion and predicted doomsday scenario for the country. Unfortunately for them, the economy rebound in the very next quarter itself! Today, we are the 6th largest economy (up from 10th) in the world; we are the fastest growing economy in the world; we have a decreasing rate of inflation and an increasing rate of GDP growth; we have added more than 3 crore new taxpapers and most importantly crores of people have been employed. If all this is indicative of a failing economy, then perhaps we must redefine the parameters of success!
Creating an imaginary South India – North India divide.
During Karnataka elections, Congress CM Siddaramaih called the Prime Minister of India as a “North Indian import”. As expected, no liberal cabal outraged. In fact, they all feted Siddaramaih as if he was some hero because he was just picking up cues from the cabal. The people of Karnataka gave a befitting reply by defeating the Congress, and yet they haven’t learned anything from the fiasco. Rahul Gandhi continues to further this cheap propaganda. Matter of time before he is also taught a lesson!
And then there is miscellaneous stuff!
Chandrababu Naidu and Mamata Banerjee continue making hilarious statements on “destruction of democracy” when in their own states, dictatorship reigns supreme. H.D.Kumaraswamy, on odd days criticizes the Congress, and on even days, criticizes the BJP. Arvind Kejriwal had lost all sense of mental balance when he went on to call Modi a “psychopath”. The Hindu once advised Modi to implement things he had already implemented. Rahul’s pathetic lies on Rafale had takers only his echo chambers.
Does this mean there has been no meaningful criticism of the government.
In fact there has been. And from the most unexpected quarter. The supporters of Modi and the BJP have also been their most vocal critics on many matters, ranging from the budget to railways to media to politics. Their concerns were heard, and course corrections implemented. It is this kind of robust mechanism that needs to be encouraged. Not an echo chamber where pliant members fight with each other to be more loyal than the king (in this case, the Prince!).
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