Dear Narendra Modi,
I'm no election expert but here's my read-between-the-lines about the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Bihar debacle, and a couple of thoughts on what you might want to do to course-correct.
1. The people of India voted you into national government because they wanted a better economy. A part of that was reforms, another was clearing logjams, a third was reducing corruption and yet another was bringing black money back. Strangely, all parties promised this but you were trusted best to deliver this "better economy". (PS: All parties still promise this. It's still the main agenda - it's what matters.)
2. Your report card on this is spotty to poor so far: reforms haven't happened, logjams haven't yet cleared, corruption may have come down a bit but hasn't disappeared, and your promises about black money have largely proven to be a joke.
3. Instead of focusing on these and working on your mandate, you veered off in two completely different directions:
- One, following an agenda that you were NOT voted in for like banning beef, having pure veg days, shutting down international NGOs, Hindu-fying history and literature, and generally doing the bidding of your foster home, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), to turn India into a Hindu nation. As you've seen, most Hindus also don't want to turn India into a Hindu nation. None of these actions had any electoral legitimacy, yet you did the bidding of your trainers at RSS. You've learnt now that the people voted in the BJP and not the RSS. Keep that in mind.
- And second, your curious desire to position yourself as some international statesman of stature out-doing Nehru and spending more time visiting places outside India than being in India itself. This has led to all decisions being centralised within the PMO and seemingly none being taken by you. It was strange to see that even your defence minister didn't know what the original OROP declaration was going to be--he merely read out what your little boffins in the PMO sent him. And it's also led you to deliberately ignore all kinds of anti-Muslim malfeasance--whether it was you not condemning the Dadri Murder, or looking-the-other-way when orange-clad swami-type idiots in your party made ridiculous statements about Shah Rukh Khan going to Pakistan, or when another Hindutva-vaadi idiot is forced down the throats of students at FTII, or when the National Academy doesn't have the testicles to condemn intolerance. Your looking-the-other-way is now obvious to people. You can very clearly now see that it is not expected of you.
4. So you want a second term as PM? Here's what you need to do: ditch the RSS. Yes, they might have been your spiritual home for ages, but they are screwing up India and nobody likes them anyway. Plus they are costing you a huge chunk of votes--your national vote share in 2014 was 31%, and it's dropped to 24% in Bihar. So primarily you've lost a quarter of your earlier fan base in just 18 months. Ditch the anti-Muslim, anti-Pakistan rhetoric. We want a country where religion doesn't matter. And we want to grow bigger, not fight wars.
5. Get right back on your economic agenda. Stop the bloody foreign tours except when it's part of the economic agenda. Pass bills. Get e-governance working. Lower corruption. Get the economy flowing again.
6. Get some humility. Get off the RSS path-of-arrogance, and deal with the opposition nicely. Work WITH them and not against them to get GST and the rest of bills through parliament. They want it, you want it, we all want it. All that's coming in the way is your ego and arrogance. Hopefully, Bihar will have taught you the lesson the state wanted to deliver to you--that they don't care for your arrogance. You can change. You need to. Get off your high horse.
8. Get the GDP growing again, past 7, maybe even 8 or 9%. Let people make money and get rich.
And who knows they might even vote for you again.
And who knows, you could eventually be seen as that world-class statesman you're dying to be seen as.
Cheers and all the best,
This post first appeared on Mahesh Murthy's Facebook page.