On bringing corrupt to book, BJP can explain how, despite its efforts, it has taken long due to our legal system, and promise that from now on, Modi will speed things up and bring the corrupt to book, with the assistance of judiciary.
Just when it appeared that Modi was regaining some lost ground the battle for the 2019 elections, Rahul Gandhi threw in Congress’ NYAY scheme as part of Congress election manifesto, offering Rs 6,000 per month to the poorest 20% families.
BJP should explain how a scheme like this coming from a party corrupt to the core, reminding people of the CWC, 2G, Coal Scam etc, with its top leadership being out on bail on charges of economic fraud, cannot be trusted as it will misuse this scheme also
Details of the scheme, like how it will be funded, how much will be states’ share, how the beneficiaries will be identified, which of the existing schemes it will replace, etc are not yet available. It’s doubtful it has been fully thought through, but Congress had nothing to lose and everything to gain in announcing such an impractical scheme!
The stated goal of the scheme is to wipe out poverty. But most analysts, including economists from the socialist camp, know it is unlikely to be implemented anywhere close to as promised, and even to the extent it is implemented, it will ruin the economy very badly.
BJP, TMC and BSP have dismissed it as a false promise.
Regardless, a substantial percentage of poor could vote for Congress solely due to this promise, because Rs 6,000 pm for the next 5 years is a lot of money for them. It is difficult to estimate how much NYAY will distort the election results, but distort, it will.
Hardcore voters of all the parties are unlikely to change their minds due to NYAY scheme. The projected beneficiaries are only 25% (urban and rural included). Sans NYAY scheme, we could estimate 5% as BJP voters, 10% as Congress voters and 10% as Other Opposition voters. Those who change their minds should come from this 15% of ‘BJP + Other Opposition’ voters. Assuming 2/3 of them change their minds, BJP could lose about 3% votes and Other Opposition about 7%.
In 3-cornered contests, this could even help NDA in some places, but overall, the 3% votes are likely to lead to NDA losing 30-40 seats, unless countered effectively.
BJP can counter it effectively if it strategizes properly.
Let’s review the major issues BJP should answer about:
- Rs 6,000 pm NYAY Scheme
- Unemployment problem
- Farmer distress
- Failure to bring corrupt to book
- What BJP will do if it comes back to power
All other issues, like Rafale, ‘Chowkidaar Chor Hai’, ‘democratic institutions under attack’, ‘religious minorities being persecuted’, etc have failed to gain traction among the electorate who could change their minds against Modi. And issues like National Security are working in BJP’s favour, and talking about them should continue.
The best promise is always selling dreams, and the best method of political marketing is ‘storytelling’, both not in any negative sense.
Instead of listing out the 100+ schemes Modi Government has implemented, which no one will recall anyway at the polling booth before voting, BJP and its spokespersons should focus on telling stories exactly answering the above 5 questions, weaving dreams in the process (genuinely meaning to implement them). All important schemes, like Ayushman Bharat, Ujwala Yojana, Beti Padhao, etc should be talked about, not in isolation, but only as part of a story.
For example, Rs 6,000 pm NYAY Scheme can be critiqued that it is a dole, it won’t create actual employment, nor skill unemployed, it won’t make them experienced for any jobs, it will make them lazy, it won’t increase the GDP, but increase inflation, and it will drive up the cost of all goods and services, in effect it will ruin the people’s and the country’s future.
To counter NYAY, BJP can announce a Job Creation scheme in its manifesto, combining Skill Development with Apprenticeship, where part of the Stipend will be paid by the Government, encouraging business and industry to employ people.
BJP can announce schemes for employment creation in industries. Once trained, and the Apprentices are ready, they will get jobs and will have a respectable and good life instead of being on lifelong Rs 6,000 dole which would demean them, and make them live vegetative lives.
In this context, BJP can explain how NYAY will lead to ANYAY, how it is unlikely to be implemented as promised, it would replace the existing subsidies making a mockery of NYAY, will ruin the economy, reducing money available for development phenomenally, making lazy a whole generation of youth who could even become a social hazard, depleting manpower availability for business, industry and agriculture for many years, driving up cost of doing business, escalating inflation, and how Congress and its supporters including some economists, unmindful of the damage they would inflict on the nation, in desperation of being unable to take on Modi, have come out with this scheme and are justifying it. BJP should explain how a scheme like this coming from a party corrupt to the core, reminding people of the CWC, 2G, Coal Scam etc, with its top leadership being out on bail on charges of economic fraud, cannot be trusted as it will misuse this scheme also.
Modi may even admit candidly that he realises the task of full acchhe din is far more difficult than he had realised, but he should point out that he was not found wanting in putting in sincere efforts, unlike Congress.
And now, BJP should contrast NYAY against housing scheme for all by 2022, how it will create the wealth of their own, at highly subsidised interest rates, instead of giving people doles.
All these should be cogently presented as a story, during debates and election speeches, in a way even aam aadmi will understand and will see the dream of a good life and wealth against being on the eternal dole, doing nothing and learning nothing.
Similarly, regarding Unemployment issue, BJP can explain how what we face is under-employment and not unemployment, asking each person if he/ she was employed during the UPA time and is now unemployed, and proving the fallacy with one’s own example.
BJP can own the responsibility for Demonetisation, and say it was like removing the cobwebs in the system, which has surely caused some inconvenience to the common man, and if Congress comes back to power, they are likely to take us back to the cobweb days.
Regarding farmer distress, BJP should explain how the UPA era problems of the farmer are different from the NDA era ones. Earlier electricity was unavailable, surely not 24X7, now they can use their pumps at will, earlier their product pricing was not remunerative, now it is for most crops, earlier there was agricultural produce shortage, now there is surplus, earlier they had to face uncertainties, now they have crop insurance, earlier there was shortage of urea, now they get what they want, etc. He can request them to bear with him and promise to deliver on the promise of doubling farmer income by 2022.
On bringing corrupt to book, BJP can explain how, despite its efforts, it has taken long due to our legal system, and promise that from now on, Modi will speed things up and bring the corrupt to book, with the assistance of judiciary. If required, BJP can put some caveats, as it will be answerable in 2024.
In 2014, Modi was a challenger and a successful CM of Gujarat; he cited the charges against a brazenly corrupt UPA and made many promises, implicit and explicit. People believed him to be Superman. Once he became PM, honey and milk haven’t started flowing on the streets, and so a certain level of disillusionment is inevitable.
Modi may even admit candidly that he realises the task of full acchhe din is far more difficult than he had realised, but he should point out that he was not found wanting in putting in sincere efforts, unlike Congress. Now that he has a good idea of the task at hand as PM, having seen it all, he can say he is making realistic promises.
The good news is that most of the uncommitted voters are likely to be willing to give Modi another chance, if only he explains all the 100+ schemes in the form of a cogent story, in a way they can understand, is candid about delay in fulfilling expectations and promises the minimum dreams people will be happy with.
I hope BJP is listening to my suggestions!
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.