[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]I[/dropcap]t might be preposterous and even vain to compare and contrast Mr. Yeddyurappa, the former Chief Minister of Karnataka and Mr. Narendra Modi, the current Prime Minister of India. But events that have unfolded during the two year tenure of Modi government are eerily similar to those of the first BJP government in South India. The BJP under the leadership of Mr. Yeddyurappa won a historic mandate in 2008 to govern the state of Karnataka after much instability and corruption. Mr. Modi’s victory was even more momentous but under similar circumstances with unbridled corruption and unstable coalition prevailing in the country for nearly a decade.
To refresh memories, Mr. Yeddyurappa was the Chief Minister for three out of the five years before making an ignominious exit. His tenure was marked by poor judgments and strategic blunders that laid the foundation for a Congress comeback. In the election held at the end of the five year term, Congress gained an absolute majority while the BJP was reduced to a mere 40 seats from the 110 it had at the start of the term. Here are five “DON’Ts” for Mr. Narendra Modi to avoid a similar fate in 2019.
Don’t follow Congress policies – BJP was projected as “a party with a difference” during the state election. On occupying the corridors of power, Mr. Yeddyurappa continued to implement Congress policies. He failed to understand that most Congress policies, in the name of social justice, cater to political patronage and schemes are devised to reward castes and communities that voted the party to power. In the past twenty four months, Mr. Modi has similarly continued with implementation of many of Congress policies. His Finance Minister, unfortunately, does not understand “Big Bang Reforms”. Fresh thinking on black money, bold ideas on income tax, capping expenditure, downsizing government and abolishing outdated institutions are indeed required to transform India.
Don’t depend on Big Business for Job Creation – Mr. Yeddyurappa organized a Global Investor Meet believing that big business can create jobs. It turned out to be a photo-op. Finance Minister too has been led to believe by industry organizations that Land Bill, GST and recapitalizing Banks are necessary for job creation. Indian big businesses are mired in debt due to poor investment decisions of past and will take years to repair their balance sheets. There is plenty of global capital waiting to flow into India. In order to attract them, Modi government must support medium and small scale enterprises in their endeavor to become multinational corporations. It must ease rules and regulations for startups and entrepreneurs. Job creation for youth, an all important theme of Mr. Modi’s election campaign, will start to happen only when SME’s and startups begin to flourish.
Don’t be too slow to act – Both on policy as well as on performance, Mr. Yeddyurappa bungled. He presented three lackluster budgets, proposed no meaningful reforms and failed to decisively act on incompetent ministers. His cabinet was stacked with non-performers that led to factional wars and eventually to his demise. Mr. Modi too has been painstakingly slow in initiating reforms promised during campaign. For some strange reason, even during the current cabinet reshuffle he has failed to purge non-performing colleagues like the Finance Minister and Minister for Women and Child Development. Timely actions are a must to avoid electoral reversals.
Don’t allow fringe elements to dictate the narrative – At the start of Mr. Yeddyurappa’s term, there were a spate of attacks on non-Hindu places of worship by extremists. Various Hindu Organizations repeatedly raised the specter of moral policing by assaulting innocent women in the guise of protecting Indian culture. Ultimately, Mr. Yeddyurappa lost the perception battle. The Modi government too was greeted by a wave of attacks on churches and minorities. Mr. Modi will also lose the perception battle if he allows a narrative dictated by right wing elements ably assisted by a so called secular media to dominate.
Don’t Boast – Mr. Yeddyurappa periodically boasted that no party can dislodge his government from power for the next twenty years. He explained his stance by claiming that voters understood transformation requires time. BJP President, Mr. Amit Shah, boasted similarly at the National Executive last year that “Modi sarkar has arrived and is here to stay for the next 10-20 years” implying successive parliamentary election victories in 2019 and 2024. Voters are not pleased when political parties take them for granted. Boasting offends voters and if they decide to unleash their wrath on arrogance of power, BJP will be given the marching orders sooner than later.
Mr. Modi must strive to deliver on four or five non-congress big ticket items like altering the current caste based reservation system, linking rivers, downsizing government, modernizing railways etc. For the sake of the country, Mr. Modi must discard Congress policies and embark on delivering promises made in the BJP manifesto with fresh thinking and innovative policies.
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