It is interesting that during the campaigns for the loksabha elections 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been noticeably reluctant to talk about his government’s achievements.
This is also ironic because we know that the prime minister loves to advertise. So much so, that a parliamentary query revealed that the government has spent close to Rs 4,880 crore of tax payer money on advertising their ‘achievements’.
As we enter the last five months of this government’s tenure, it is becoming increasingly apparent that a historic opportunity has been squandered. The Modi government – which was doubly blessed by a historic mandate from the people and three years of low oil prices, had an opportunity to enact widespread reform. Instead this became a government with questionable priorities and a lack of any legislative clarity.
The successes of the Modi government are debatable. However, there were ten critical missteps which will, without a doubt, define the Modi government.
This is the most debated issue in the last four years. There are conflicting reports and claims about the record of the Modi government on the job front.
The latest payroll data released by the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) and the National Pension System (NPS) show that around 22 lakh jobs have been created in the country in the last six months (up to February 2018). This gives the Modi government a major boost.
Amit Shah has maintained that all the 125 crore Indians cannot get jobs. He has said the answer to the issue of unemployment is self-employment. He claimed 9 crore people had got self-employment through the Mudra scheme and other government schemes such as Stand Up India and Startup India.
In a different interpretation of employment, both PM Modi and Amit Shah have reiterated that even selling ‘pakodas’ is also employment. It is better to sell ‘pakodas’ or be a labourer than to be unemployed, they maintain.
The ‘pakoda’ remarks were mocked by the Opposition. Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been a vocal critic of the BJP government’s performance on the employment front.
He quoted PM Modi as saying that the BJP government would give employment to 2 crore youths every year. China gives employment to 50,000 youth in 24 hours whereas Modi government gives employment to 450 people in 24 hours, Rahul Gandhi said while campaigning in Karnataka recently.
The manifesto said the government was committed to 33 per cent reservation in parliamentary and state assemblies through a constitutional amendment.
The Women’s Reservation Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha in March 2010 when the Congress-led UPA government was in power. The Bill is pending in the Lok Sabha.
Despite enjoying a majority in the Lok Sabha, the Modi government has not brought the Bill for passage in the lower house. The government has only three more Parliament sessions left to ensure passage of the Bill before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections are held.
3. BLACK MONEY
The BJP leaders had promised to bring back black money stashed in overseas banks. However, this remains a promise.
The Opposition, particularly Rahul Gandhi, has been taking a jibe at the BJP while asking people whether the Modi government has deposited Rs 15 lakh in their bank accounts.
Among other promises, the manifesto talked about ensuring a minimum of 50 per cent profits over the cost of production for the farmers, reforming Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act 2003, implementing farm insurance and adopting a ‘National Land Use Policy’.
The APMC Act reforms and 50 per cent profit over production costs have not yet been implemented. The Agriculture ministry has released a draft Model Contract Farming Act, 2018 to create a regulatory and policy framework for contract farming. But the Act still remains to be amended.
Farmers are distressed in most parts of the country. Suicides are still taking place. Though the BJP has won most of the Assembly elections held after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, farmers’ issue has been strongly raised in most of them.
Agriculture in the country has not grown up to the levels promised by the BJP. Farmer loans and lack of crop insurance still remain a major cause of concern.
The BJP had also promised Agri-rail network but there is hardly been any progress on this front.
5. EMOTIVE ISSUES
The manifesto promised implementation of Uniform Civil Code to protect “culture and heritage… by drawing upon the best traditions and harmonising them with the modern times”. However, it is far from being implemented.
It had talked about “exploring all possibilities within the framework of the constitution to facilitate the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya”. However, the matter remains under the purview of the Supreme Court.
No progress has been made on the modernisation of madrasas as mentioned in the manifesto.
Discussing ‘Greater attention to border areas’, the manifesto promised to ensure “return of Kashmiri pandits to Jammu Kashmir, establishing good governance in Jammu and Kashmir while abrogating Article 370 of the Constitution”.
But neither the Kashmiri pandits have returned to the Valley nor Article 370 has been abrogated despite the BJP ruling the state for the first time in alliance with the PDP.