Across my various interactions in the recent months, I have managed to gather 4 constructive reasons why some Indians would want to vote for BJP -
- Modi: First and the loudest reason is Mr Modi himself (his key attributes in this context being - Development oriented approach and Decisive and Strong Leadership)
- Stability: The need for stability is the second critical reason. Not having a government that depends on smaller regional parties and their so called short-sighted agendas while taking a call on critical issues. This was cited as a key reason for policy paralysis of UPA.
- Less Corrupt Option: The perception that BJP is at least not as corrupt as Congress, also plays a role. There may be proof of possible BJP corruption but people are ready to digest it, and move on
- Any Other Option? : The final reason is that most people feel there is no other valid option
Now lets leave our judgements and prejudices aside for a while and assess the above through logic and reasoning -
- Modi’s Development orientation and Decisiveness
- The Gujarat model of development has been debated to no end. Many figures being thrown from both sides. TN, Maha etc have claimed to be better. I have always found that from some angle or the other, all figures can be interpreted in favour of or against Modi. If you leave figures behind and want to talk about development on ground, then there are Gujaratis claiming they have seen it with their eyes, and there are Indians from other states claiming that roads and infra in their state has also developed, which the Gujarati has not seen. This debate to me seems endless. However, given the fact Gujarat Model of development is so susceptible to a raging debate makes one wonder about how true the claims really are.
- Lets for a moment assume that the ”development” did happen. It is only logical to expect that whatever development has happened, was based on some planning, some vision for Gujarat. And this plan and vision must have been stated somewhere. A party’s manifesto can be safely treated to be that document. It gives a road map, with specific promises.
- Modi made many promises to Gujarat (which we will discuss in a bit), and is now making similar development promises for India (Diamond quadrilateral of bullet train, IIT/IIM/AIMS in every state (curiously, the IIT/IIM in each city claim is missing from the manifesto, but is integral to ModiMantra on BJP site), 24*7 electricity “like already done in Gujarat”, a massive low cost housing program that will provide pucca house to every citizen by 2022 etc)
- So whether Modi will deliver on his promises in future, can be best assessed by whether he has delivered on his promises in past. Has Modi delivered on his 2007 and 2012 manifesto in Gujarat, and if yes then to what extent?
- Now, if you don’t agree with me on this simple logic that a man’s credibility is based on his past actions, then you can stop reading right here. If not then please continue.
- Here are the key concrete promises of Modi’s Gujarat manifesto collected from sources (Gujarat BJP website does not have the older Manifesto ) given in the annexures below-
- House to ALL urban and rural homeless
- Achieving 12% economic growth in next 5 years
- Doubling agriculture production
- 14 hour uninterrupted power supply for all farmers
- Reduce water Tax for irrigation
- Increasing electricity production to 20,000 MW of electricity
- Set up 1 SEZ in every distric
- Raise per capita income to above Rs 80,000 per annum
- Achieve 0% dropout rate in primary schools
- Pure drinking water for everyone (repeated in both manifestos)
- Medical insurance for all people below poverty line
- Good roads across villages
- Making Gujarat No.1 in time for the state’s golden jubilee in 2010
- Increase women employment to 30 lac
- What happened to these promises? I’ll not quote the well circulated TOI article describing “the 10 broken promises”. I’ll just park this point for now.
- Stability: Do we really believe that stability alone is enough to ensure good governance? UPA govt was stable for 10 years and their record is abysmal. In BJP's case, they have already announced a pre-poll alliance with around 30 political parties, to form the NDA. So even if they come to power, aren't they going to be bound by regional party demands and requirements? Wouldn’t those, who worried about a Khichri sarkar, feel rather reassured of bringing BJP to power had BJP decided to fight these elections alone? Further, its also unfair to brush all regional parties as petty and low on vision. The problem, however, with having such opportunistic alliances, is the post-poll ministry allocation dynamics. This is bound to hamper the much celebrated decisiveness of Modi. Stable govt, therefore, is not a sufficient reason in itself to vote for BJP. It has to be a clean and stable govt. Which brings us to the next point, Is BJP clean?
- Less Corrupt: The most avid of BJP supporters can only say this, with much hesitation, that BJP is not as corrupt as congress. In fact, they go a step ahead and say, Modi will ensure that BJP becomes clean in due course. This seems hard to believe on two accounts – First, the 'less corrupt' perception is probably a function of how much of it has been unearthed and spoken about in media. In which case it is only a matter of time before we realise that BJP is as corrupt. Secondly, one wonders as to why hasn’t Modi been able to cleanse his Gujarat cabinet in so many years and purge it of sentenced ministers and convicts? In the interest of a moral high ground, shouldn’t a minister 'sentenced' for corruption be kept away from political interference, at least until he is cleared by a higher court? Or is a moral high ground such a bad thing? Is Modi’s development agenda so weak that it will get dented by letting go 2-3 ministers? Modi claims that he will de-criminalise BJP if he comes to power, but sadly he has not given even one clear signal to make a neutral observer believe him. So, the point I guess is, there is nothing like less corrupt.
I strongly recommend that you do your own claim check, because whatever data and source I put here, will not generate as much trust as your own sources. I am ready to concede that may be 2 or even 3 of the claims have been achieved. But no further.
Its important to note here that Modi has had time on his side. Even after 5+2 years since his second win, he seems to have failed to deliver on his promises by a substantial margin. Even if we assume that he has come close to achieving half of the claims, is that all that we should expect from a Model State? Isn't a National responsibility much larger than a state responsibility? Does this performance at state level generate any trust? Therefore hasn't Modi technically failed at state level, and yet he has been portraying it as his strength? Is this what builds PM credentials?
Now if one tightens the noose, and critically evaluates him in the larger context of all the negative aspects of his political life (inflammatory speeches against Muslims, justifying fake encounters, deliberately distorting facts repeatedly to create impact in speeches, displaying lack of integrity by concealing his marital status and using it in his speeches to portray a clean image, dis-respecting and sidelining senior party leaders like Advani, Joshi & Jaswant, snubbing Sushma Swaraj on the Sriramulu decision, being under CAG scanner for crony capitalism, fighting against the SC to subvert the Gujarat Lokayukta and legislating a weak one, spying on women for no reason ever declared so far... its a long list) then suddenly his meager achievements seem further dwarfed.
So, is BJP really the only option?
Show some faith.
- Modi Manifesto for Gujarat 2007