By Sudip Bhattacharyya
On demonetisation, in my article 'India: Betrayal by opposition at time of national unity' in South Asia Monitor on 27/11/2016, I wrote: ‘To these opposition parties in India, anything (Narendra) Modi does is draconian and must be opposed tooth and nail. Sadly, when irrespective of political ideology all should strengthen Modi’s hand, comes this betrayal by these opposition parties.'
I also stated that demonetisation was not an isolated step but one of a series of measures against corruption and black money, preceding and following.
In the context of the SuNamo effect in the recent state elections, it can be said now that I was really echoing the feelings of voters on demonetisation, at least in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Manipur. There were similar feelings in Punjab and Goa, too, but it didn’t get so pronounced because of countervailing pressure of anti-incumbency factor and local issues like corruption/dissension.
This then is one major usher of SuNamo effect. The electorate saw demonetisation as one of a series of long-awaited pro-poor and positive anti-corruption measures. They were also aghast at opposition parties opposing and condemning it and lost all faith in them.
The achievement in the surgical strike was the other important catalysing factor. Here, too, people did find it absurdly shameful that the opposition doubted the integrity and valour of the Indian army.
Moreover, pro-poor measures adopted by Modi have given articulation to so far aborted aspirations of the poor. These are 40 million Jan Dhan accounts, over 1 million insurance covers under Suraksha Bima Yojana, about 52 lakh LPG connections and better sanitation though new toilets, especially for impoverished women, and more.
The faith in Modi and his government did not come about in one day. The clean and responsive administration brought in came as great respite after the extremely corrupt and callous administration of UPA days. These days we get to read in newspapers quite often how the administration comes to help with alacrity in response to individual complaints referred to concerned ministries or the PMO. Overall, transparency and accountability were established in governance and law and order was maintained.
Further, I said in another of my articles 'Black Economy in India: Where Do We Stand Now?' on demonetisation in Merinews on 24/02/2017 that: ‘The slew of measures taken by the present government against black marketers has created fear in their minds. It appears that consequently such activities have markedly come down.’
On the economic front, the government opened up the insurance sector by allowing up to 49 per cent FDI. It also opened up the coal industry through the passage of the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill of 2015.
In the 2016 budget session of Parliament it pushed through the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. The Code creates time-bound processes for insolvency resolution of companies and individuals. The government also took other steps to clear infrastructural bottlenecks, expediting project implementation and effectively increasing business confidence. It has got the GST act passed and should be able to introduce it in July 2017.
All this helped increase public faith and confidence in Modi and his government.
Finally comes the leadership, motivating and communication skills of Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah. The two between them energised the organisation and strategised the whole election campaign which made possible ‘nukkad’ meetings and direct interaction with all cross-sections of people. This worked for enabling majority consolidation as against minority fine-tuning.
(The author is a commentator on contemporary issues. Comments and suggestions on this article can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org)