The 16th Lok Sabha has proved that the modern Indians, especially the first and second time young voters, do not want to live with the past. Hence, the stress has been on what has Modi delivered. If winning elections is a yardstick, the Modi government has been able to touch the core of people’s heart across the nation
The 16th Lok Sabha is all set to come to an end. This would mean litmus test for the first stint of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and in his own words, his has been the first government to be given absolute majority and it had no ‘Congress gotra (DNA)’ attached.
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi with the youth
The prophets of doom vis-a-vis Modi as BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate in 2014 had been proved wrong. Instead, after the polls that elevated ‘Gujarat ka Sher’ as new moderniser and a catalyst of development in the citadel of power in Delhi, people started acknowledging his performance as an ‘election campaigner’ too.
The ‘Moditva’ brand was the new election magic and Modi emerged a Michael Jackson on the electioneering stage in world’s largest democracy. That was not all. The real challenge for him started after that. The challenge was about governance and that is how the story of the 16th Lok Sabha has to be seen.
BJP lawmaker Nishikant Dubey outlines the spirit with which the Modi government delivered and for which the last five years tenure of Indian Parliament ought to be seen. “The expectations of the middle class, working class, poor and especially the neo-middle class have grown frighteningly,” he says.
Another seasoned parliamentarian Vayalar Ravi, a Congress veteran from Kerala, says, “While no one will dispute that India has not seen an election campaigner like Narendra Modi since the time of Indira Gandhi. My politics started in the Indira era. The strategy of laughter and cheering at the leader during rallies involve forging oneness of sentiment with the audience. Both Indira and Modi have it. But what about governance?”
- In May 2014, when the Modi Government came to power, as many as 18,452 villages were without electricity in India. By April 28, 2018 all of the country’s 5,97,464 census villages have been electrified
- Last five years have seen a sea change in North East strictly in developmental paradigm. The Modi Government has keenly promoted the trade potential of North east. This has given an economic boost to the entire region
- the year 2019 would be considered a path-breaking one as the Narendra Modi government crossed a milestone to grant 10 per cent reservation in higher education and jobs to economically weaker sections among the general category
The point is well taken. In this context, the outgoing Lok Sabha has perhaps been able to prove that the modern Indians and especially—the first time and second time voters—the people between 18 and 25—do not want to live with the past and hence the stress has been on what has Modi delivered. If winning elections is a yardstick, the Modi regime has been able to touch the core of people’s hearts across the nation.
Since he led BJP to an unprecedented victory in the 2014 elections, the party has been on a winning spree, snatching power in several states—including in provinces where the electorate used to be indifferent. The voters were at times also hostile to the perceived ‘pro-Hindu party’ often also slammed for its overemphasis on Hindi belt politics.
In the North East, for example, BJP was nowhere five years back. Today, it has its own Chief Minister in Assam, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur and shares power with regional partners in Nagaland and Meghalaya. In the seventh state of Mizoram also—its partner MNF is back in power. The ‘Congress Mukt’ northeast is achieved. “Last five years have seen a sea change in North East strictly in developmental paradigm. The Modi Government is keenly promoting the trade potential of Northeast. This will give an economic boost to the North Eastern region, but would also enable closer engagement with countries across the borders like Myanmar, Bhutan and Bangladesh,” says Jitendra Singh, Minister of DoNER. He lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi for having taken the courageous decision of amending the 100-year-old Indian Forest Act of 1919, thereby exempting the “homegrown Bamboo” from the Forest Act. “This has proved to be a major booster for livelihood among the youth,” he says.
“Jo kaam karte hai, unn sey hi apeksha hoti hai (You raise your expectations when someone is there to deliver from the other side of the table),” says East Delhi MP Mahesh Giri. Certainly, people have immense faith in the Modi government....without such faith, they would not have been raising their expectations. It is true now that we have the Modi government around, there are huge expectations,” he said. “But it is natural, while expectations are rising and it is happening also because it is a performing government. People also believe that the Modi government is one who can deliver a big way in anti-terror front. This is a vital point to understand in the context of post-Pulwama attack,” he underlined.
Take other areas and sectors—in terms of achievements, last four years and nine months saw crafting of a robust foreign policy, effective implementation of welfare measures, direct to bank transfers and the GST. With regard to GST, Prime Minister himself has summed it up well saying if Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel brought political unity, the introduction of GST brought in economic and unity in taxation measures in the sub-continent. In Prime Minister’s own words—some of these—especially at the global front came largely due to a clear mandate in 2014. “The world recognises the government with a full majority...the fractured mandate in 30 years has often made the country face awkward situation globally,”
Shri Modi said on February 13, 2019 at the valedictory session of 16th Lok Sabha. “When such a leader goes abroad, the world knows that this man has mandate behind him...This is a big difference I have experienced in the last five years and the credit for this goes to 125 crore people and not to Modi or Sushma Swaraj for their decision to vote for a stable government in 2014,” he said.
Executive Orders and Legislative Measures
- PM Modi’s first tenure will also be known for doing away with around 1400 obsolete laws. The country really moved from ‘red tapism’ to red carpet scenario.
- Ease of Doing Business improved
- India jumped 65 places in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking, to 77th. And, PM says India determined to move into the top 50 next year.
- India is one of the most open countries for Foreign Direct Investment. More than 90 per cent of sectors are now on automatic route for approval. As a result of this and the confidence in India, the country has received FDI worth over $250 billion over the past four years.
- On the socio-legislative front, Modi government will be remembered for trying to bring in a law that seeks to ban Triple Talaq. At the fag end of its stint, the government also tried to enact a new law that would deal effectively with fraudsters and chit fund operators.
The terse political commentary on the issue of fractured mandate and stability from the Prime Minister came on a day when several Opposition leaders held a rally in the capital. So, with the general elections looming in April-May, Modi’s Midas touch appears to be working yet again even as the rival Congress and other outfits led by ambitious individuals from N Chandrababu Naidu to Mamata Banerjee are struggling to find back their old rhythm. Nevertheless, politics is also about dynamism, and nothing can be stagnant. On December 11, 2018, the Congress was on upbeat mood as it could unseat BJP in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
“For Congress supporters, Left liberals and intellectuals, the results meant Rahul Gandhi is finding his feet established. But in more ways than one, the hype was erroneous as the BJP successfully ousted Congress in last four years in Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Assam and Haryana, and also in Christian dominant states of Meghalaya and Mizoram,” says BJP leader Mukul Roy. Shri Roy, a former Trinamool Congress leader, is in an upbeat mood in West Bengal as the BJP – in last four years – has been able to take the battle into the enemy (Ms Banerjee) camp. Therefore in terms of governance, yet again, the BJP leaders feel the going has been good for the party and Prime Minister has ‘re-established’ people’s faith in government apparatus.
With regard to people’s welfare and especially in villages, the rural development sector works focused on poverty reduction, rural infrastructure habitant development and also providing employment. The ‘rural electrification’ was a milestone. In May 2014, when the Modi Government came to power, as many as 18,452 villages were without electricity in India. By April 28, 2018 all of the country’s 5,97,464 census villages have been electrified. In 2014-15, before Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) begun, only 1,405 villages were electrified.
BJP sources also give credit for initiating the move to PM Modi’s first Rural Development Minister Gopinath Munde, who unfortunately had died in a road accident within days of taking charge. But the intensity with which the work was undertaken by the government is a sterlining example by itself.
The 16th Lok Sabha also undertook various legislative measures. In terms of affirmative steps, the year 2019 would be considered a path-breaking one as the Narendra Modi government took a milestone step to grant 10 per cent reservation in higher education and jobs to economically weaker sections among the general category.
On January 8, 2019, Lok Sabha wrote history by passing the much debated 124th Constitution Amendment Bill that seeks to guarantee 10 per cent reservation to the economically weaker sections among general castes. It was later passed in Rajya Sabha on January 9, 2019. After the passage of the Bill by Parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the episode as a victory of social justice and said it would ensure a wider canvas for the youth to showcase their prowess and contribute towards nation building.
There have been great works on other fronts too. A major target group of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment that deserves all attention for social justice is the senior citizens. There has been a steady rise in the population of senior citizens in India. The number of elderly persons has increased from 1.98 crore in 1951 to 7.6 crore in 2001, and 10.38 crore in 2011.
Official sources also say that the projections indicate that the number of ‘60 plus’ population in India will increase to 14.3 crore in 2021 and 17.3 crore by 2026. General improvement in the health care facilities over the years is one of the main reasons for continuing increase in the proportion of the population of senior citizens. For health measures, the government launched Ayushman Bharat in fiscal 2018-19.
Among other initiatives, in recent years under the Modi government, it has been decided to continue Post Matric Scholarship Scheme for Scheduled Castes students for three years, that is from 2017-18 to 2019-20 and additional allocation of funds for clearing the arrears under this Scheme.
There were also small and yet big steps. Launched by Prime Minister Modi on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, 2015, the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities has undertaken the Accessible India campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) as a nation-wide Campaign for achieving universal accessibility for Persons with Disabilities.