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OPINION | PM Modi and His Unblemished Image in Minds of Indians Will be Biggest Challenge to Oppn in 2019

OPINION | PM Modi and His Unblemished Image in Minds of Indians Will be Biggest Challenge to Oppn in 2019

In the last five years, the performance of the Modi government and his actions have spoken louder than words, whether it is providing electricity to every household or constructing toilets for almost 10 crore houses.

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Sanjeev Kumar Tiwari

One of the priorities of the central government is to eradicate corruption from public life. In a system where country’s wealth was seized, given in the hands of a few and not equitably distributed, promises of ‘Ache Din’ and ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’, are entwined with the Modi government.

The task is Herculean as the vice is deep-rooted in the system to the extent that it is accepted as a way of life. This was because in the post-independence decades, when funds were being flooded for development, some leaders of the ruling party dipped their fingers too deep into the pie and once tasted, it entered their gene which passed on from generations to generations.

As a result, no government expenditure remained without a share going into private hands. So much so that the erstwhile Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi lamented that of every rupee released by the government, only 16 paise reached the destination, the difference somewhere evaporated in between. Little understood is how devastating corruption could be upon the system.

It was expressed by one former chief vigilance commissioner V. Vithal once, who said that corruption is a financial terrorism. There are no wounds, no blood therefore no sensation and no headlines but indirect consequences are far worse. Just to make one person millionaire illegally, other thousands and lakhs are looted of their rightful claims.

Now we have a prime minister who has taken it upon himself to stem the rot in right earnest. The sobriquet of the nation’s chowkidar (guard) fully fits him. His statement ‘na khaunga na khane doonga’ is a commitment and not mere slogan.

Today, the crown prince of the great Indian ruling dynasty is questioning the prime minister’s credibility as the chowkidar on issues of Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi. The guilt has been committed in erstwhile UPA government and the guilty are being chased to bring to book.

India, the largest democracy of the world, with an electorate of about 91 billion voters, will be celebrating the apical festival of elections shortly. The print, electronic and social media are being flooded with war of words and rival and competing cacophony.

The incumbent party and its leader Narendra Modi are vying for regaining, sustaining and maintaining the Modi wave of 2014. But the opposition parties are trying hard to set a tone of discontent, suffering and failure of the Modi government. The Congress has realised that Modi and his unblemished image and perception in the mind of Indians is still the biggest challenge in 2019. Therefore, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his entire team have been sweating hard to tarnish brand Modi somehow.

Since the last general elections, Modi has been successful in carrying his message to the masses that a poor chaiwala (tea seller) could be a robust and vigilant chowkidar and protect India’s interests in every field.

The nonexistence of any important issue led the Opposition to cook a poor story of dealings in Rafale procurement. Opposition hauling about the defence deal in Rafale has lost its credence after the issue has been examined in detail by the Supreme Court and also by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

The slogan ‘chowkidar chor hai’ is countered by Modi through ‘chowkidar chaukanna hai’ (guard is vigilant) and later by a campaign launched by him “#MaiBhiChowkidar” with a tweet. By evening, the hashtag ‘Main bhi Chawkidar’ became the world’s top trend on Twitter. It indicates that brand Modi and his wave is still not weaning. The slogan of Congress-led Opposition to demean and denounce Modi’s leadership lies flat.

In the last five years, the performance of Modi government and his actions has spoken louder than words. Either it is for providing electricity connection to every household or for constructing toilets for almost 10 crore houses. The issue of financial inclusion of poor in the national mainstream through opening of 34.87 crore bank accounts under the Jan-Dhan scheme. Facilitating bank loans for more than 16.63 crore entrepreneurs under Mudra Loan scheme to start their own business is another innovative milestone achieved by the incumbent government.

Modi’s Ayushman Bharat Yojna, which proposes to cover more than 50 crore individuals, is the world’s biggest ever health insurance scheme. It provides cover to the poor where they can get an insurance for medical treatment of up to Rs 5 lakh even in private hospitals.

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna is another flagship scheme wherein more than 6 crore LPG connections are distributed free of cost to the poor. The performance and speed of this government in the infrastructure facilities such as building roads, airports, railway lines, rural infrastructures or 1.53 crore houses for homeless, direct transfer benefits of Rs 6,000 per annum, in the account of small and marginal farmers have never seen before and are proving to be game changers in the present political scenario.

Not just these, even the frontiers and boundaries of the country are secured and protected under the decisive leadership of Modi. It was evident by the bold counter insurgency operation conducted in Myanmar in 2015 to flush out NSCN-K camps, the 2016 surgical strike conducted after the Uri attack and the Air Force strike in Balakot after the Pulwama attacks.

Also, the safe return of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman from Pakistan’s captivity in less than three days, and a successful isolation of Pakistan from international spectrum speaks volumes about Indian’s effective diplomacy.

With Lok Sabha elections inching closer, let the electorate honestly ponder, keeping caste and religion at bay, about who is crook, who is honest and in whose governance is the country really safe and can march on the road to development.

(The author is a political analyst and teaches political science in Delhi University. Views expressed are personal.)


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