Although the general election is still more than one and half years from now but one thing is for sure that this time the current government is not going to get the same mandate as it received in 2014?
The reason being since 2014, a constant tussle between state power and people’s power is being witnessed. The handcuffed people’s power is watching the state power, many with sobs and tears that the mandate that they gave in 2014 is being dishonored by the state power.
The mandate in 2014 was for change to bring rapid economic development and transformation of the country, corruption free governance, and tension free environment in the country.
The people’s power that overwhelmingly endorsed these ideas is aghast that these prime modicum of governance remains underachieved and there is little that can be given due credit.
There is little doubt that the mandate in 2019 will be on performance of the ruling government and it would be in context to enumerate them for public judgment.
There are few big poster items and few auxiliaries that the current government is boasting as its achievements. The big three are demonetization, goods and services tax (GST) and surgical strike on Pakistan to ward off terrorist activity in our country. These three poster items are drummed up as its laurels by the current government.
Let’s analyze each of them. As far as demonetization is concerned its one year now and memories are fresh of the hardship people faced to get its own money.
What did the demonetization has achieved? Was it necessary to give people so much of pain to achieve such trivial results? This debate has reached a stage where the government is trying to ‘hold the towel’ while many trying to disrobe it from its tall claims.
Next is Goods and Services Tax (GST) that is drummed as financial reform to improve the financial health of the country. The ground reality there is hardly any consensus of the people on this and anyone concerned with this tax is unhappy with this initiative of the government.
The GST not only pinches but bites the people. It’s true for those in profession of trade and commerce but also the middle class who have to shell out extra 18 per cent as tax on all the consumption it does as service tax. The jump from 12 to 14 and to current 18 percent is something too much for service sector’s pocket.
The third achievement of this government is the surgical strike made against Pakistan to stop terrorism in our country. However, this achievement of the government made that people feel proud, now has made them feel wary because since then and now the damage on us is far more than the achievements made by our brave soldiers.
The terrorist strike continues unabated is making people restless. They are asking what did the surgical strike really achieved.
In today’s political discourse this achievement of the government is now made out to be sensitive issue and any criticism to it is an unpatriotic act. The rulers of the day do not like to talk about this accomplishment and skirting the issue.
Apart from these three big show pieces of the government’s performances, there are two more laurels that is being drummed up by this government.
One is the policies and programmes initiated by it and other is foreign policy discourse and both are hailed as unprecedented initiatives that have changed the face of the country.
The claim made by the government that the policies and programmes like; ‘make in India’, ‘digital India,’ ‘swatch bharat abhiyan’, etc has changed the course of the country is something that needs to be analyzed before giving them any credit. The general feeling is there is nothing new in them and is extension of the previous government, just old wine in new bottle.
Similarly, the foreign policy accomplishments of touring the various countries are again being dissected. How much this initiative has helped India to gain support of other countries and how successful it has been to gain foreign investments to our country? The general feeling is there is nothing startling that can be hailed as achievement of the current government.
This brings our discussion to the same premise that in the absence of any credible survey on the support base of the current government, it is difficult to fathom the depth of the popularity that the current government.
However, going by the report card of the government that is just enumerated it would be naïve to believe that entire nation is backing this government and it enjoys wide spread popularity of the people of the country.
Notwithstanding, the hypoblast that this government has established a good governance since it came to power it is chugging the state power train in its full steam.
Undeterred by the people’s power, those in the mandarins of power remain intoxicated and feel that everything that they are doing has the support of the masses.
They are convinced that they have done all good to the country and there is nothing wrong about them. This mindset makes them believe that their style of governance is accepted by the majority of the people and so they are invincible.
It is in this context we see now the state power is blatantly running down the people’s sentiments in the country. The demonetization, the GST and the surgical strike are all its blatant manifestation.
The government of the day is taking its decision by self-imposing rightness of judgment and using the state power to implement them without considering that the people are backing them.
So far the people have tolerated all the right and wrong initiative of the government because in democracy they remain handcuffed till the next general election takes place and that will happen only in 2019.
If we recall the people’s power gave strength to new state power in 2004 and brought a new set of people for governance by testing the earlier government.
Then appreciating the kind of governance that the incumbent government initiated, it gave them an extension in 2009 general election.
However, when 2014 came, same people’s power changed the then existing set of people and brought the current administrators that promised them moon.
The general consensus among the people in 201 was for rapid economic development of the country, corruption free governance, peace with neighbors and a tension free environment in the country.
However, when the new rulers of the country saddled themselves on power they went ahead to implement its own agenda, without caring the sentiments of the masses.
They endorsed its own agenda of appeasement of Hindu majority to the extent it let loose the cow vigilantes to go for lynching spree of the Muslim minority making them feel terrorized and insecure in their own country.
How far the current government is standing firm on the hard rock or on the quick sand is unexplored right now in the country.
The current government appears to believe that everything is in fine blend for them and there is no quick sand that has replaced the hard surface below them.
This hazy situation is built because the opposition is too weak and feeble to put the ruling dispensation on any leash. The opposition remains a divided house and its preference to remain aloof gives oxygen to the government to do whatever it likes to do as there is none to challenge them.
This brings our discussion to the conclusion that at the moment it is difficult to predict that the wind of change has started blowing in the country, but one thing is for sure that that there is a divided house in the country on the style of governance by the current government.
The people have enough taste of the present government and some are wary at the talks of bringing real change in the country that is being talked about by the current government.
Whether these sentiments are held by the majority of the people is difficult to gauge but the fact remains 2019 will not be the same as 2014 for the current government.
Lastly, in India people’s power hinges on many social factors. Whether these power bases will allow the ruling government to continue in power or replace them is something that can be said only after the 2019 general election.
At the moment just watch how the last lap is being run by the current government.
[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]