I’ll start with this, I’m a big fan of our PM Narendra Modi. I say this having tracked him lightly over the last (5) years, ie his Gujarat tenure, and more seriously over the last (2) years, leading to his ascendency to the PM’s chair last year to date.
Since then, lots of things have happened, some predictably so. Overall, the GoI has performed reasonably well. Sure, there are those who want the big bang reforms and headlines but many circles admit that there is a lot of cleanup that needs to be done on the ground. Slowly but surely, the economic indicators are moving in favor of India—ease of business rankings, improvements against corruption, and maybe more generally, brand India. Internally, schemes for the poor, financial inclusion, movements towards electrification of India, and attempts towards developing the manpower of India as well. Recently, even reports of Mr. Modi’s project management — things I’ve heard many times in Gujarat—have been shared. This is how he works, and Mr. Modi will always be the man for long term implementation vision & capabilities — something I have seen myself over the last 10 years in Gujarat.
But things are more center stage now for him. And a strong counter narrative to his efforts has been in the making since May last year. But let’s be honest, the GoI hasn’t entirely helped, and a lot of the narrative problems are internal to the BJP (which sadly affects the GoI directly). Leaders like Shatrugan Sinha who openly give importance to comments against the party, and various other sideliners who loudmouth (and sometimes get sucked into) ridiculous comments clearly does not go down well in the electorate. It is unfortunate that every single BJP comment is highlighted to the skies, while ridiculous comments made otherwise are sidelined quickly. Let’s not even get into the Sanjive Bhatt episode that barely saw the light of day, and was mostly kept to online versions.
The counter-Modi narrative worked in Delhi, and we now know it has worked in Bihar. Everything from AwardWapsi, Dadri and Kalburgi has stuck. The technicality clearly doesn’t matter; whether the GoI is directly responsible or not can be argued till the sun goes down but it doesn’t matter. The perception is clearly sticking and working against the narrative Mr. Modi (and the BJP) has painstakingly built leading to May 2014. The Congress in particular has been smart, and have carefully used non-Congress voices knowing that the electorate was less likely to hear them out based on their voting history as well.
There is also growing resentment around the fact that the justice timeframe in India is far too slow. No doubt, the GoI continues to take steps to solve that problem, but the fact that numerous accused are roaming free—take the case of Lalu Yadav who has won the election in Bihar while out on bail, and he’s convicted—reflects badly on the GoI and for the future of India as a whole. Even when some effort is being made, it is largely swept under the carpet.
I can’t say that I know Mr. Modi well; I actually don’t at all. But I can somewhat say that I know his ability to work and succeed beyond what the rhetoric may say about him. This defeat too shall pass. The opposition will do better than to underestimate him as a person, and his political will. He will continue to have my support & the support of the country. But it is now time to evaluate some of the strategy, the media, the loudmouths and forces that hamper the future of our country, and his own office. And the message has to be equally cumulative.