Daunting dawn: Achhe din and unkept promises

The New Year has dawned. And the country will be eagerly looking for the new government that will rule for the next five years from May onwards.

Nearly five years ago too, people had looked ahead for the elections in the hope of the “achhe din” dawn. But that hardly happened, for most.

When the BJP’s poll jingle ‘achhe din aane waale hain, kyonki hum Modiji ko laane waale hain’ rented the air in 2014, the party made nearly 500 promises in its manifesto.

But then, politics is an altogether different ballgame.

Now, as 2019 Lok Sabha polls are just four months away, a close look at the promises made and fulfilled by the BJP shows a hiatus which typifies the track record of most political manifestos. 

And what will haunt them most is the non-fulfilment of promises on the core issues of Ram Temple, Uniform Civil Code and abrogation of Article 370 which their supporters had vociferously demanded.

NDA’s flagship schemes like Namami Gange and Smart Cities Mission also did a poor show. Same was the case with its promises on curbing black money and creation of two crore jobs every year.  

Show me the black money

Many believe some headway has been made in eradicating corruption. But the Congress has gone to the extent of calling Modi a ‘chor’ (thief).

However, there is no tangible sign of black money — stashed away in Swiss banks and other safe havens — coming back or the promised “Rs 15 lakh coming into the bank accounts of the poor”. The latter was to be fulfilled in a matter of 100 days of the BJP coming to power. Modi has not spoken about it after the 2014 campaign.

On Hindutva front, despite the scale-up in demand from the RSS and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad for a legislation or ordinance to build the Ram Temple early, the government seems inclined to wait for the Supreme Court decision on the issue, which is unlikely before next Lok Sabha polls. 

The core constituency of the saffron family is restive over no progress on the core issues, while the RSS is also questioning the BJP on these.

The BJP, which rode to power riding on the Anna Hazare movement on Lokpal issue, has yet not appointed the all-powerful ombudsman. However, thousands of shell companies have been closed down, a step cited by the government as a key measure of its zero tolerance to corruption policy.

Besides, no major corruption case has been filed against the government and to its great relief, the Supreme Court recently refused to allow a probe into the Rafale fighter jet deal. Perhaps Modi’s biggest failure is on the employment front. In 2016, the prime minister’s reference to pakoda-selling as employment had invited ridicule from the Opposition, which still latches on to it to attack the government.

At a rally in Agra in 2013, Modi had promised to create two crore jobs annually. Youths had voted in large numbers for the BJP in 2014 and hence, job distress is fraught with risks for the saffron party in 2019.

The anger of the farming class is on the rise while the promise of doubling farmers’ income is yet to be realised. Farm distress has already singed BJP’s prospects in three Hindi belt states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, and looms large over its performance in 2019. 

No headway could be made in providing 33% reservation to women in Parliament and assemblies, a bill which was passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010. Despite having majority on its own in the Lok Sabha, the BJP did not bring the bill for passage in the Lower House even in the ongoing penultimate session of this Lok Sabha.

The promise of ensuring a “Swachh Bharat”, though, has met with some success.

On the economic front, the government fulfilled its commitment of providing a non-adversarial and conducive tax environment and rationalised and simplified the tax regime after it implemented the Goods and Services Tax (GST), something which the United Progressive Alliance had failed to implement despite pushing for it, as the BJP had then opposed it tooth and nail.

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Daunting dawn: Achhe din and unkept promises

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