Dear Narendrabhai, Victory burnishes halos of leaders with the glow of achievement and dispels the shadows of self-doubt. The magnitude of your Uttar Pradesh victory burnishes your future, your party’s and the country’s. Your leadership, popularity and credibility were never in doubt. Had a certificate been necessary, it came in the form of an electoral tsunami, which inundated your enemies. From the ghats of Varanasi to the verdant landscape of Uttarakhand, Gale NaMo swept them under the debris of shattered dreams of a Modi-Mukt Bharat. Of the 690 Assembly seats up for grabs, the BJP won over 415 seats as against 120 before.
Your most precious gift came from UP—your karmabhumi for the past three years. If winning 73 Lok Sabha seats in 2014 wasn’t enough, the gargantuan mandate was a sanguine signal to the rest of the country that UP accepts you as its real son instead of an adopted one. Never before has an outsider seized the mindspace of over 1.4 crore voters in the state as you have in just three years. You couldn’t have scored a triumph of such vast dimensions unless voters from all castes—young and old, men and women, rich and poor—didn’t root for you. You have broken the vote bank myth like the Hammer of God. On occasion, during your exhausting campaign, you made some statements out of sync with your development agenda. But for the land of Ram, Ahilyabai, Jhansi ki Rani, Kabir, Ganga and Yamuna, you were the Chosen One; Destiny’s Child. Your party now rules over half the states, which accounts for two thirds of Lok Sabha MPs.
You have acquired a pan-India image. There is hardly a village in the country where your name is not chanted. In political terminology, the Modi-fication of Indian politics is complete. Not a single political leader with the mojo to challenge you even symbolically in future battles of ballots is on the horizon. With unprecedented victory comes unavoidable responsibility. It has raised people’s scary expectations of you. You have introduced innovative schemes, policy changes, better accountability and transparency in Modi Sarkar. However, your admirers and adjutants expect you to deliver speedily on anything they feel needs extra turbo charge. They are the ones who depend on you to win in 2019. Here are their short and long term expectations:
● Establish a vast road map for job creation. Over 10 percent of India’s active labour force lacks productive jobs, with more youth being added every year to its dreary ranks. For the past few decades, government policies have been encouraging technology or capital-intensive projects. Machines have replaced men in many areas. India is the only emerging economy in which Services accounts for over 57 percent of the GDP but provides employment to less than 10 percent of the workforce. The manufacturing sector has shrunk to limping levels. For their livelihood, over 55 percent of Indians depend on agriculture, which contributes barely 17 percent of the GDP. By providing mega funds for the infrastructure sector, your government has laid the foundation for massive job creation. But most labour-intensive projects such as roads, ports, railways, real estate, power and others are hobbled by dithering bureaucracy or little private investment. Your dream of ensuring 10 percent GDP growth in your current tenure will not come true unless your government puts more money in the hands of the marginalised and the landless. Consider replacing the supply side model with demand-oriented economics to step up job opportunities. Revival of agriculture and agro-based industries should be your government’s top priority for the next three years.
● As you must be aware, all your bold policy decisions will go kaput unless you have a dedicated executive in place—a bustling bureaucracy and committed Cabinet. Your campaign cry in 2014 was ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’. It’s time to take out the shears and trim the size of the bloated bureaucratic hedge. Rationalise and downsize government by merging a few ministries and reducing the number of Secretaries. Most new projects are stuck on the tarmac thanks to the ballast of babudom in the form of myriad clearances. Your decision to abolish the Foreign Investment Promotion Board is the right step. But there is more scope to prune the number of government officials by at least 25 percent. Since you have an absolute and comfortable majority in the Lower House, you can afford to reduce the number of ministers and use them as progress monitors. A Union Minister costs the exchequer an estimated `3 crore-plus a year and a Secretary over `2 crore. Since their performance cannot be quantified, their presence may lead to delays in clearing files.
● In the past you have spoken about the need to include the best practices of every state in the national agenda for governance. Since the BJP dominates the majority of the big and small states, the pendulum is chiming to include flagship schemes of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh in your future nationwide development agenda. All the CMs will expect you to reinvent the Chief Ministers’ Council as a genuine platform to identify the real issues they confront, for resolution through consensus. The hour of your favorite mantra of Collective Federalism has arrived.
● Administrative and financial dams have blocked the cleaning and linking of rivers. Put the oars to the mission, and expect a job wave, along with the creation of Swachh Bharat and Swasth Bharat.
History is replete with examples of triumph turned into tragedy. The idea of ‘India is Indira’ tarnished the image of India’s most decisive ruler before you. Dear Prime Minister, Modi is not India. But India wants to discover more of Modi when it comes to sensitive national issues. Contentious issues such as dealing with Pakistan, education, the use of faith and finance in politics and finally on holding simultaneous elections for State Assemblies and Parliament will spark concord with other political parties. A healthy engagement with opposition leaders will only maximise Maha Modi. Verdict 2017 has given enough power to your elbow to push forward the NaModi-fication of governance to make India a super power and you the supreme power. Nehruvian Socialism reimagined India as an Utopia with myopia. As a Nehruvian federalist with Indira’s centrality and Vajpayee’s connectivity, you will be the uranium of the masses, producing enough political energy to reboot India. For the past few decades, India has been looking for a leader taller than the tallest so far. Nation has mandated you to walk into that slot with your much inclusive mission for 2019.
Follow him on Twitter @PrabhuChawla