In less than 3 months from now, the largest democracy of the world is going to have its elections for the 17th Lok Sabha. Based on the current scenario, to many sagacious people, political analysts, and media, the cloud of political situation in next 4-6 months looks a little bit uncertain which way the camel will sit no one knows.
The reasons are many because opposition parties which are fragmented are trying to go for alliances in certain states particularly in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. It is a fact that in these two and other states of North India, caste politics play a significant role in elections. Congress party which recently won elections in three states by whatever reasons, does not seem to return to power in the central politics. The voting at the national level by the public are dominated or guided by different criteria than voting at the state level (local issues are important at state level). Congress has an immature and arrogant leadership with still having weak organizational set up in many states. People have still not forgotten the big scams in UPA government. Congress does not have any definite agenda for the country and it may rely on the decade old agenda of “garibi hatao” (remove poverty). During Congress rule, poverty was never removed but Garib (poor) were removed. Therefore, in my opinion, Congress is ruled out to come back to power again.
On the other hand, the present ruling party Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), under the leadership of Narendra Modi, has ruled the country for about five years without any major scams. It absolutely seems that the Rafale controversy is a devised strategy by Congress to spread misinformation to mislead the voters.
An analysis of the performance of BJP government shows that it has taken several bold decisions and implemented them successfully. One of the excellent performances of this government has been the strengthening of the national security and fulfilling several pending needs and demands of the armed forces. Today, Indian feel much secured compare to 10-20 years back. Additionally, there has been considerable decrease in the terrorist activities in the country.
This government has also taken several measures for the poor and low-income people in the country particularly in health care reforms and the poor people are receiving benefits from such programmes.
BJP government was able to contain inflation rate despite increases in oil prices. Economic growth rate is all the time high. It has also taken several measures to reduce corruption from the government administration and administrative efficiency is much high compare to 10-20 years back. This has been possible by using digital and other smart technologies. These measures have shown good governance and transparency in political and administrative systems. Implementation of GST by this government was a challenging achievement which also helped in curbing corruption to certain extent. Furthermore, the tread of unity has become much stronger and no major communal riots took place in the country during last five years.
On another front, during the rule of BJP, undisputedly, the pride of India has increased all the time high in the world. We, NRI people working and living abroad can easily realize this as Indians are treated with high respect in various parts of the world. Additionally, India has maintained excellent relationships with most of the countries of the world. The relationship will Pakistan will never be friendly, this is for guaranteed.
Under “Swacch Bharat Mission” (Clean India programme), BJP government really made a dent. governments. The government undertook world’s biggest toilet building spree in the country. It is claimed that more than 6 crore toilets have been built in the country particularly in the rural and semi-urban areas. This area was completely overlooked by previous governments. Clean India mission will help in controlling the various types of diseases in the up country.
Despite the above various achievements, I am afraid that BJP may not be able to achieve an absolute majority on its own in order to form the government. It may struggle a little bit in this regard and may have to rely on the support of its allies and others which will be based on politics of compromises. It means it may be a coalition government in 2019. Coalition governments have become the need of the hour in Indian situation.
One of the issues on which people and particularly youth are not fully satisfied is the creation of jobs. When computerization or digitalization are introduced in government and private sectors, creation of new jobs is not easy because automation and artificial intelligence impact thousands of jobs in terms of destroyer than creating many jobs.
The Digital connected India may develop a new breed of entrepreneurs who will develop new and disruptive business models. However, start-up companies cannot create many jobs to provide employment to the increasing number of skilled and educated youth. This problem is going to remain for a long periods and whichever government comes to power may not be able to solve this rising problem. They cannot create additional jobs in the age of digitalization for various reasons and particularly country like India which is facing population explosion.
No one has virtually paid much attention to control population though politicians and analysts will always argue that population in terms of percentages have decreased. But they forget that it is the absolute number which increases in multiples.
BJP government has recently passed a bill in the Parliament, making 10% reservations for the economically backward people. Though it is an important bill as majority of the categories of population in India may be covered by reservation quota system, yet a word of caution to BJP government not to be over-confident from its results in the election.
This 10% reservation quota shall not act as “RAMBAN” to cure unemployment problems among economically backword people. This is just for the sake of satisfaction that even economically backward people in India have reservation. It may help them only in education not employment because it may be practically impossible for any government in India to create large number of jobs as explained above due to computerization and digitalization. This rising problem in India will have to be thought out by the incoming government on a larger scale based on industrialization and agricultural development.
BJP government has taken many measures to improve the conditions of the farmers, however, they seem not to be fully convinced of the benefits which should have come to them as they their expectations were high which were promised in previous election. Waiving of farmers loans may be solution temporary but it is not a long-term solution.
Middle class income group in India seems not very happy with government as this group did not get much benefits in last two budgets with respect to income tax limits. It is high time for BJP government to remove their unhappiness in the next budget by increasing the income tax limit to Rs5 lakhs without any reservations.
My email interactions with some people from a few states show that Indian voters in present situations appear to be confused. BJP not having a strong foothold in Southern States and Bengal, the party has to depend on the choices of voters from Northern, Western and Eastern states. In these states, political alliances are also taking place particularly with the regional parties which may make the scenario tough and further confusing in predicting which party is likely to come to power in 2019 election. The possibility of Congress coming to power looks dim, however, BJP should not be over confident like 2004 elections when it was strongly felt that India was shining but public did not understand it how and in which areas India was shining. Consequently, BJP despite very hopeful, lost elections and remained out of power for a decade.
Therefore, BJP leaders and its workers need to go to the grassroot level to explain in simple words about its government’s various achievements, constraints and programmes which are still going on and their benefits to the society at large may take another 3-4 years because capital projects and programmes have long gestation periods and benefits are reaped only in the long run.
In the forthcoming elections, BJP needs to decentralize its various strategies in terms of leadership campaign by shouldering more responsibilities on young leaders. For example, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Dr. Sambit Patra etc. are case in point. Matured leaders such as Nirmala Sitharaman, Nitin Gadkari, etc. should be given more election campaign responsibilities.
In the absence of clear-cut trends in India’s forthcoming election, it is very difficult to predict voters’ mood. But the way new developments are taking place, it looks that Indian political scenario may face political instability like early 90s. This would be very risky for the economic growth of the country, therefore, Indian voters should caste their valuable vote after careful analysis which party can build a strong united India. Also, UPA ruled for ten years, it may also be wise on the party of voters to give another five years to BJP to complete its agenda of a stronger and modern India.
It is suggested that BJP must follow a “Guerrilla Election Strategy and Campaign” to reach out voters at every nook and corner of the country and put an unbeatable election campaign if it wants to repeat its 2014 win, otherwise, political instability days look ahead. It should not forget that anti-incumbency sentiment is also on the rise. Coalition governments generally harm economic growth i.e. it leads to slow growth rate, exceptions may be there.
Finally, someone has nicely argued that India needs “to strengthen governance by people, villages and cities which is the next ‘big ticket’ reform leaders must undertake.”