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3 Damage Control Measures That Could Help Modi Win 2019

02/05/2016 8:07 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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DIBYANGSHU SARKAR via Getty Images
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists, clad in masks of BJP prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat state Chief Minister Narendra Modi, participate in a rally in Kolkata on February 1, 2014. Modi, tipped in opinion polls to be India's next premier, remains a polarising figure accused by critics of turning a blind eye to anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002 in which as many as 2,000 died. He has denied any wrongdoing. AFP PHOTO/Dibyangshu SARKAR (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

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It's seems just like yesterday when PM Narendra Modi single-handedly decimated the Congress, giving it the worst defeat it had experienced since the regime of Indira Gandhi. Back then, PM Modi won over India primarily on the backs of the Gujarat model, his development mantra, promises related to black money and as a contrast to the Congress's corruption.

Two years down the line, the economy has seen a paradigm shift but things seem largely unchanged at the ground level. The contradictions are stark: while on one hand, the UN has dubbed India as the world's fastest growing economy, the common citizen is still battling 100% inflation in dal prices.

While on one hand, the UN has dubbed India as the world's fastest growing economy, the common citizen is still battling 100% inflation in dal prices.

Somewhat unfairly, Modi is being blamed for this state of affairs and is feeling the full weight of unrealistic expectations--people expected him to undo 60 years of wrongdoing in a couple of years and they are frustrated when they see that this is not happening.

With almost all political parties adopting a hostile stance towards him and with acrimonious debates on religious intolerance, nationalism and divisive politics casting a shadow on the BJP, winning India in 2019 will not be a cakewalk for PM Modi. However, I think he could improve his prospects by focusing his attention on three key areas.

Build alliances

Another landslide victory for the BJP seems unlikely. PM Modi has to keep in mind that his party has to build alliances and make sure that they stay with him for a long time. It is only then that he can stay in power. Apart from building relationships, he has to give them a reason to stay with him in the form of great portfolios. As of now, there are only two parties that could assure the Modi government of power in 2019 and beyond. They are JD(U) and TMC.

Bring in "acchhe din" for the common person

Undoubtedly, PM Modi is a great administrator. After all, he brought India on the global platform through initiatives like Make in India. He has changed the world's perspective towards India. Apart from this, various companies have parked funds in India that might bring employment. Investors have started seeing positive trends in FDI. This being said, he has failed to bring a difference at the ground level. This is what matters most. Why would a common person vote for PM Modi if he fails to control basic food prices like dal?

PM Modi must guard against introducing policies that hint at taking away the common person's money in the name of tax.

When PM Modi came to power, crude prices were $110 a barrel; today it is $40 a barrel. Despite the crude prices falling by nearly 60%, its benefits are not trickling down to end consumers. This irks voters. When the Centre is capable of delivering acchhe din by simply lowering the fuel prices in the same ratio, why isn't it doing so? Fall in fuel prices will trigger a domino effect which can ultimately lower prices of all articles across India. This is basic economics, which I am sure Finance Ministry would also know. What is stopping them from lowering fuel prices, now that fiscal deficit is under control and we have record reserves? If PM Modi wants a second shot at power in 2019, he has to make sure that the average citizen has a practical reason to vote for him.

PM Modi must also guard against introducing policies that hint at taking away the common person's money in the name of tax. Most recent example was imposition of tax on Provident Fund and limitations on its withdrawal. Such rules can backfire and create antipathy towards the government.

Curb turbulence in Gujarat

Many might call this a political conspiracy to topple the Gujarat government, but the fact remains that a 22-year-old man named Hardik Patel held Gujarat to ransom for three days to ensure reservation for the Patel community. Leaving aside the losses to property, this created a dent in the ruling government which will be seen during Assembly elections in 2017. Some of the effect has already been seen in municipal elections.

Given that Gujarat is Modi's "karmabhumi", opposition parties will leave no stone unturned to tarnish the state's image to pull him down.

With Hardik Patel targeting the Gujarat Model and calling it a myth, the opposition wasn't long in joining the chorus. Another problem is that the bootlegging of alcohol and drugs has increased across Gujarat, resulting in an increase in crime.

It is very important for PM Modi to keep his grip on Gujarat personally. Given that Gujarat is Modi's "karmabhumi", opposition parties will leave no stone unturned to tarnish the state's image to pull him down.

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