Modi is our most competent and committed PM and ex-CM in recent Indian history
If Opinion Polls are to be believed, BJP is likely to win Gujarat elections by the reduced number of seats. Media say, despite Gujaratis’ love for Modi, they don’t want him to take them for granted. They say post-Modi, Gujarat Government has done nothing for them, and is corrupt too.
Despite Gujarati business, industry and trade being hit by economic slowdown, demonetisation and GST, farmers by un-remunerative prices for their produce, Patidars by unemployment, and just about every Gujarati by the departure of Modi from Gujarat, as are claimed by critics, why do so many still support Modi?
States, both BJP-ruled and others, should increase their performance by an order of magnitude
For two reasons: One, he is our most competent and committed PM (and ex-CM) in recent Indian history, and if he doesn’t deliver as PM, chances are bleak that anyone else will do any better. Two, none of the others in the reckoning inspires any comparable level of confidence.
There’s no anti-incumbency for Modi Government across India, even if some people are somewhat unhappy with the Central and/or State Government. Modi is most likely to be re-elected PM in 2019 even if NDA’s vote share and seat share come down.
But possible anti-incumbency in BJP ruled states and varying degrees of discontent with Modi himself among some Modi supporters could make them vote against BJP.
BJP can’t afford a significantly lower percentage of vote share or seat share in 2019 Lok Sabha elections if Modi wants to implement all that he wants to in the 5 years after 2019 elections. So, he needs to do all he can to maximise NDA’s vote and seat share.
What are some of the things Modi can do before the 2019 elections to hold on to NDA’s seat count in the Lok Sabha and even improve upon it, despite some level of dissonance among some of his supporters? The following are some of my thoughts:
States, both BJP-ruled and others, should increase their performance by an order of magnitude. BJP-ruled states because people will hold Modi responsible for their performance. Non-BJP rules states because development can’t happen across India if some states lag far behind.
Farmers can make or break Modi’s 2019 bid. So, resolution of their problems promised in the 2014 BJP manifesto, is long overdue
Nitin Gadkari has excellent relationship with the CMs of almost all the states. Modi can assign him the additional responsibility of overseeing the performance of the states. He can set up a Task Force headed by Gadkari, reporting to Modi, to suggest ways to improve the performance of the states; he can give free hand to Gadkari to identify members of the Task Force. To motivate him, Gadkari can even be made a Deputy PM. Related Ministries can functionally report to him. MNREGA can also be monitored by him.
Agrarian Crisis is a major problem facing India. If the first two years of Modi rule as PM were affected by drought, the next was impacted by a stumbling economy, superimposed by demonetisation (which additionally hurt the economy temporarily). Farmers can make or break Modi’s 2019 bid. So, resolution of their problems promised in the 2014 BJP manifesto, is long overdue.
Lots of money will be required to solve agrarian issues… not just Government money, but also people’s money because increasing MSP will result in significant food inflation. So, efficient ways to solve this issue should be discovered; else, Modi may satisfy farmers but anger the others. Another Task Force headed by Arun Jaitley can be set up to address this issue. Arun Jaitley can also be made a Deputy PM. Related Ministries can functionally report to him.
Though there is no major disenchantment among women since 50% of the electorate are women, any resolution of their problems will help. Sushma Swaraj is grossly under-utilised, and she has lots of ideas and is good at outreach. Another Task Force headed by her can be set up to address issues of women. She also can be a Deputy PM. Related Ministries can functionally report to her too.
Reservation is an issue where the nation stands divided. Reservation for SC-STs is less controversial. As I have already argued in ‘my article’ with the help of Case Studies, well-thought-out affirmative action can provide a permanent solution to the reservation issue, to everyone’s satisfaction. OBC Reservation needs to be addressed even more seriously, as this is flaring up across states. A Task Force headed by Rajnath Singh can be set up to address this issue. He can be made a Deputy PM too.
Vajpayee set up an IT Task Force and we reaped the benefits since 1999 since India became a global IT power
Having so many Deputy PMs may look odd, but there’s nothing wrong if states’, farmers’, women’s’ and SC-ST-OBCs’ issues are even just seen to be taken up seriously; all these groups constitute a large percentage of our population. This will also engage the Senior Ministers better and help them come up with solutions in each of these sectors. This will also bring in a sense of distributed responsibility, and competition among the Senior Ministers, and help Modi monitor and control all the Ministries more effectively.
Education, Skill Development and Employment need focused attention. Another Task Force headed by Piyush Goyal can be set up to address problems of these sectors. Also requiring attention are Industry, Services and Exports. Modi may set up Task Forces for these sectors too.
People believe bureaucracy is not measuring up the PM’s expectations. I have given some ‘suggestions’ in this regard in my article. Bureaucracy needs toning up, and Corruption needs to be controlled to help the nation move forward and to give the people the belief that Modi Government is indeed delivering. A Task Force headed by even a non-Minister can be set up to address such issues.
Vajpayee set up an IT Task Force and we reaped the benefits since 1999 since India became a global IT power.
The names proposed for heading Task Forces and as Deputy PMs are merely the Senior Minister in the existing Council of Ministers.
Task Forces, incidentally, are made up of cross-functional Specialists, not politicians, and are only recommendatory; they are NOT decision makers or implementers. Modi can reflect on their recommendations and include the decisions in BJP’s 2019 Manifesto. This is not equivalent to showing results, but better than not being able to answer some of the questions about the first 5 year Report Card. There is enough to show by way of results otherwise.
This will be a major Cabinet Reform, improving the performance of the Government. This will also help dispel the ‘perception’ that Modi concentrates all power with himself and help utilise the services of Senior Ministers better.
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.