Yeh mere dil ka dard hai (the pain in my heart). Pradhanmantriji, I have not heard your “Mann ki Baat” on All India Radio, as it comes across as moralising propaganda. Mera dil hai Hindustani, so I want to express to you the anguish of my heart; not some lofty ideals from the mind.
In 2014 (seems so long ago now) you claimed to be different, that you did not believe in vote bank politics, that you would kick start the economy, eradicate corruption, have less Government and more governance, and that you would encourage “make in India”. By way of a gentle reminder to your 56” chest (is that where your dil is?) you had also said that within 15 days every Indian would get Rupees 15 lakhs from Swiss bank accounts into their own accounts.
By all accounts you have failed on your promises. Not really. You have succeeded on one front – elections! With your spin doctors and a pliant media you have won most of the elections post 2014. Political analysts tell us that this was largely due to the “social engineering” formula of your Man Friday, Amit Shah. This so-called “social engineering” is nothing but re-packaged vote bank politics. You have engineered defections from Manipur in the East, to Gujarat in the West, Uttarakhand in the North, Goa in the South, and Bihar in the middle. In an earlier article I had referred to this as “insipid poached eggs”. Despite having a brute majority in the UP Assembly, you “socially engineered” the resignation of 5 opposition MLCs so that the seats vacated by them could now be occupied by Yogi the Chief Minister, and his two deputies – Dinesh Sharma and Keshav Prasad Maurya. So how are you different from the rest of the pack? You differ only in degree; you are worse than the rest.
The same thumb rule applies to vote bank politics. Hindutva was your biggest vote bank, and you did everything possible to enhance that appeal – from the Ayodhya temple issue, cow vigilantism, beef ban, Uniform Civil Code, demonisation of the Muslim community, and choosing a President whose only claim to fame was his dalit background. So your second claim also falls flat on its face.
Your third electoral promise was to kick start the economy which you cleverly described as being in “ policy paralysis”, a term that the media lapped up. In fact it was more a case of political paralysis after the Congress lost Pranab Mukherjee, its astutest politician, to Rashtrapati Bhawan. The “paralysis” was accentuated by an ideologically fragmented coalition Govt, and a concern for the environment. You don’t suffer such handicaps. You don’t seem to care for the environment either. There was no Minister for Environment for several months. You attended the Art of Living bash on the banks of the Yamuna even though the National Green Tribunal had repeatedly said that it was causing irreparable damage to the river’s fragile eco system. You increased the height of the Narmada dam knowing full well its damage to the environment and adverse impact on poor tribals. After all your voters are in Gujarat, where the dam(n) waters will flow.
Coming to the economy itself, mature and learned economists like Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and former PM Manmohan Singh had forewarned of the dangers of a reckless 56” economic strike. You cared a damn. Now your very own former Finance Minister, Yashwant Sinha, has set the cat among the pigeons, causing more than a flutter. I quote ad verbatim from his article in the Indian Express:
“So, what is the picture of the Indian economy today? Private investment has shrunk as never before in two decades, industrial production has all but collapsed, agriculture is in distress, construction industry, a big employer of the work force, is in the doldrums, the rest of the service sector is also in the slow lane, exports have dwindled, sector after sector of the economy is in distress, demonetisation has proved to be an unmitigated economic disaster, a badly conceived and poorly implemented GST has played havoc with businesses and sunk many of them and countless millions have lost their jobs with hardly any new opportunities coming the way of the new entrants to the labour market. For quarter after quarter, the growth rate of the economy has been declining until it reached the low of 5.7 per cent in the first quarter of the current fiscal, the lowest in three years. The spokespersons of the government say that demonetisation is not responsible for this deceleration. They are right. The deceleration had started much earlier. Demonetisation only added fuel to fire.”
Can there be a more damning indictment, coming as it does from one of your own senior partymen?
Your fourth mega pixel attack was on corruption. Some of your colleagues proudly assert that there is not a single case of corruption against them. What about the Vyapam scam in MP, which has claimed the lives of many embroiled in it? Why no action against Yeddyurappa, your CM candidate in Karnataka? Why nothing against the Bellary brothers and their multi-crore wedding bash during the note-bandhi? Why no prosecution of Jagan Reddy whose party in Andhra supports you, and reportedly deposited the maximum amount of cash during the note-bandhi? Pradhanmantriji, you have much to answer for. It is all very well to set the Income Tax and Enforcement Directorate against political rivals like the Chidambarams. Please show the same enthusiasm against your own partymen.
Lest I, or the country forget, people like Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, Robert Vadra and Shiela Dikshit should have been in jail by now, for all their alleged misdemeanours. Why no FIRs against them? Are you biding your time, or were you just making wild allegations? The nation wants to know. So does my dil.
Isn’t it amazing how Udhyogi Ramdev’s Patanjali has gross sales of Rs 10,000 crores, and his colleague Krishna has become the 8th richest man in India? How have the fortunes of Adani (Fortune oil is his brand) and Ambani (topping the Fortune 500 list) grown exponentially? Is your Govt playing Godfather to them? In a quid pro quo are these fortunate beings financing your elections and mega events? Is it true that senior bureaucrats have been “advised” to arrange funds for your various projects? My dil wants to know.
Your fifth claim was to give less government and more governance. Arrey bhai, you want to govern what we eat, what we wear, or whom we sleep with; and through the Aadhar linkage you want to put all the dots together to make cartoon integers of all us hapless citizens. You told the Supreme Court that privacy was not a fundamental right. Thank God that the nine wise men (navratnas) unanimously decreed that we ordinary citizens had the right to privacy. Through your now infamous note-bandhi you even tried to govern our petty savings and filled your incompetent banks with our cash. Every other day you came out with new rules. What manner of governance was this? The GST is the last nail in the coffin. It is going to be the death knell for petty traders and small businesses. But the fortunes of Ramdev, Adani and Ambani will swell. This is not good governance. It is clever posturing to channelise the benefits of Govt policies to those who are chummy with you.
Your sixth big ticket claim was to “Make in India”. This is a cruel joke. Is your proposed 100,000,000,000,0000 Rupee Bullet Train made in India? Are the millions of smart phones that Flipkart sold during Navratri made in India? Isn’t the proposed Nagpur Metro getting its coaches from China? Are you not buying expensive, and possibly obsolete, defence equipment from the USA, Israel, France etc? Has not the Indian Army rejected the newly designed rifles made in our lackadaisical Ordnance factories? Did not the under trial American Howitzer’s barrel explode because of defective shells made in those same factories? Isn’t the highest in the world Sardar Patel statue being constructed in your home State by China? Pray tell me what are you now making in India that wasn’t being made before you assumed office?
Yes, there is one thing – making tall claims and false promises. Make in India could better be termed Fake in India. What about your foreign guests? What can you show them that is made in India and world class? Till now we showcased the Taj Mahal, though the Yogi has now declared that it is not part of Indian culture! So what do we showcase? I suggest what has made India the world’s greatest milk producer – Amul; a co-operative of milk-maids, not a corporate of man-mades! You could also showcase ISRO. We have been to the moon and Mars, and successfully launched satellites of several countries. Unfortunately for you, these Made in India success stories predate your tenure as PM. May you have the humility to accept that, just as Sushma Swaraj did in her recent speech at the U.N. General Assembly. Till then my dil aches for my country and its acche din.
(Published on 03rd October 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 40)