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Dear Mr Prime Minister, Here's What I Think

03/09/2015 8:26 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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A supporter of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) holds up a mask of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an election campaign rally in Kathua, about 90 kilometers from Jammu, India, Saturday, Dec.13, 2014. The final two phases of the five-phased state elections of Jammu and Kashmir will be held on Dec. 14 and 20. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

Dear Mr. Narendra bhai,

Like millions of Indians, I too had voted for you and your party in the belief that you will provide good, transparent, accountable and effective governance for the betterment of the people. Our belief stemmed from the way you had transformed Gujarat into one of India's most prosperous and developed states, in spite of facing myriad challenges. In fact, this belief had made us invest our hopes in your leadership for changing the face of India and make it a global superpower.

The unprecedented mandate you got in the last elections, despite your track record, could largely be attributed to the corruption-ridden rule of the Congress-led UPA alliance at the Centre. The party, like you, had an able leader in Manmohan Singh, who in his earlier avatar as the finance minister in Narasimha Rao's government was the main architect for economic liberalization in the country, which put India on the global map. However, unlike you, Manmohan Singh did not have a political base that would have given him the power to exert his influence over his party. In fact, this lack of support came in the way of him acting against the corrupt and tainted leaders since the locus of power was vested elsewhere. This not only eroded people's faith in the party, but was also one of the main reasons for their ignominious defeat.

"Suddenly, people throughout the world started noticing you, and felt that here was a man who had the ability to put India on the world map."

You started off very well by bringing a slew of reforms for accelerating the pace of the economic development. Your 'Clean India' campaign endeared you to all Indians as for the first time we realized our utter lack of civic responsibilities. Your foreign policy also came up for praise. Your unmatched oratorical skills had drawn tens and thousands of people to your rallies in India, but, what came as a surprise, was the way you could ensorcell the massive crowd in US, China and Dubai, an honour that is generally reserved for rock stars! Suddenly, people throughout the world started noticing you, and felt that here was a man who had the ability to put India on the world map. We could get a sense of your rising popularity in the way you were accorded reception by President Obama and Xi Jinping. The icing on the cake came when Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince and his five brothers personally received you at the airport, which was indeed a rare gesture.

modi parliament 2015

However, serious doubts are now being cast on your ability to govern India. Here's why:

1. The complete breakdown in the functioning of the parliament, engineered by the Congress leadership, could have been averted, if you had reached out to the Congress leadership. Instead, it became a battle between you and the Gandhis. You need not have fallen into the trap laid out by Rahul Gandhi by his jibe "suit boot ki sarkar," as right through your political career, you had led an austere life. You needed to communicate more with the people on what Deng Xiaoping had once said "to be rich is glorious". You need to educate people that industrialists create wealth and jobs, and we need not be ashamed about our association with them.

2. The second event is regarding the grant of 'One Rank One Pension' (OROP) to the armed forces. This matter has been put on the back burner by successive governments for over two decades. However, you gave a ray of hope to the veterans, promising expeditious implementation of the OROP. While one can't question your good intentions, but, what is baffling is the way you were silent in not issuing a statement spelling out the reasons for the delay in its implementation. When you eventually implement OROP, which you will, it will be construed that the agitation and the subsequent hunger strike by the veterans had forced the decision on you. I would urge you to read the letter of Chanakya to King Chandragupta where, while bringing the plight of soldiers to the King's notice, had said "the day the soldier has to demand his dues, it will be a sad day for Magadha for then, on that day, and you will have lost all moral sanction to be King!"

3. I agree with the BJP leadership that various institutions and educational bodies were earlier headed by Congress and people with leftist leanings, however, you could have made a better choice while selecting the Chairman of FTII; someone who was politically neutral and had the requisite domain expertise, as bringing party loyalists to head educational institutions will only contribute to weakening the underpinnings of all educational institutions.

4. The fourth incident relates to the recent protests by Patidars (those who hold a piece of land) in Gujarat. Their demand to be included in the reservation quota is totally unjustified. Incidentally, the present Gujarat Chief Minister belongs to this community. Though their demands are not justified, no effort has been made to engage with them, leading to total confusion in the state. In fact, I would urge you to initiate a dialogue so that this tendency to weaken Hindus by reservation politics gives way to a better alternative - employment on the basis of opportunities in an emerging India, as opposed to reservation.

As one of your greatest admirers and well wishers, I have few suggestions to offer:

There is no doubt that you are one of the ablest and decisive prime ministers we have ever had. You need, however, to change your approach from being a 'micro manager' to one where you empower your ministers to implement your economic and social agenda. You also need to communicate more, and reach out to all the political parties, to enlist their support for getting the crucial bills passed in the parliament, as any 'antagonistic approach' will only prove counterproductive. Your critics say "that you care more for the theatre of politics than the hard grind of passing laws or accomplishing reform through compromise."

You also need to participate more in parliamentary proceedings to infuse confidence, not only in your own members, but also in the opposition. Both Jawaharlal Nehru and Atal Bihari Vajpayee's popularity stemmed from participating in the parliamentary proceedings. This is another way of gaining the confidence of the opposition.

We are delighted that more than five lakh crore rupee have been earmarked for road projects. However, it should not end up that India's growth is being fuelled by addition of sub-standards assets due to corruption. Can you not announce steps that you would take to ensure that world class infrastructure would be ensured this time around?

You have also not taken any measures to eliminate crime against women and your commitment of creating millions of jobs now looks like an empty rhetoric.

Your creating one hundred smart cities is likely to flounder unless you stem the rot in the local bodies and municipalities, which directly affects the ordinary citizens. Again, we would like to know how you are going to ensure that urban planning is in the hands of people with the necessary skills.

We have a lot of faith in your leadership and we dread to see you fail.

Good luck.

With warm personal regards,

Sincerely,

K.S.Venkatachalam

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