Modi government completed four years in power on May 26 this year. In its 2014 manifesto, the BJP listed a 50-point promise detailing more than 600 sub-promises. Despite the fact that everyday PM Modi (or the NDA government) has to face rude attacks from opposition, he has been able to ward off criticism with some good policy move along with jibes against the previous United Progressive Alliance regime — corruption, dynasty, etc. According to critics, the Modi government has been able to sugar coat every policy measure with a patina of morality.
For instance, many believe that policy move such as demonetiation has failed to achieve its original objective of shaking down black money from the darkest corners of the economy. But the strategy of making people believe that they were allied with the government in support of a noble cause, actually delivered the results in the government’s favour.
With General Elections 2019 just few months away, the ruling party is well aware that the opposition unity is slowly emerging as a wall. But one thing that goes in BJP’s favour is that it is no longer a party active in the Hindi heartland, as it has spread its wings in the northeast region of the country under Modi’s leadership.
In politics it is said that even a week is enough to swing voters, either in favor or against. So, despite the fact that Modi government is facing a lot of challenges, it will be interesting to see what steps it takes to swing the electorate in its favour. Now take a look at these challenges that are surely becoming a headache for the BJP:
The Rafale deal signed by Modi government has become one of its top headaches. Recently, the Supreme Court asked the Centre for pricing details of the 36 Rafale jets India is buying from France. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked for the pricing details in a sealed cover within 10 days. However, reports suggest that government will file an affidavit expressing inability to do so given the need for utmost secrecy about weaponry.
This is one of the most hotly debated topics among people. The Modi government has been criticised for its “all-round” failure in generating employment. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari had said, “there are no jobs in government sector. Jobs in banks have shrunk because of information technology. Government recruitment in the ministries is frozen.” Given this, millions have been forced to apply for a few hundred low-level government jobs, a worrying sign. In a statement, PM Modi had earlier said that selling ‘pakodas’ is a form of employment. In his support, BJP chief Amit Shah had said that “It is better to sell ‘pakodas’ than remain unemployed. Selling ‘pakodas’ is not a matter of shame.”
Rising crude prices
Fuel prices continue to rise further with the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, deciding to cut production levels. Since April 1 this year, Brent crude oil prices have risen by 24 per cent, from $68 per barrel to $84 as on October 5. While the government feasted on the lower prices when it stormed to power, high crude oil prices on international front, along with high taxes, has put the government in a tight spot. So, as an economist put it, the government is in defensive mode.
Rupee in a free fall mode
While rising oil prices affected the consumers, the falling rupee shook up financial markets. On April 2, dollar was pegged at 65.1 but on August 31, it went to 71, a depreciation of 9 per cent. Currently, the rupee is trading at near 73 against the U.S. dollar. It has depreciated more than five percent in a month.
In its manifesto, the BJP specified that it would ensure shelter equipped with electricity, water, toilets and access to everybody. But it is not the case in many parts of the country.
Agriculture in doldrums
The government promised to double farmers’ incomes and prop up crop prices, but nothing concrete has been achieved so far. Recently, thousands of farmers marched towards the national capital, with the Congress alleging that the “Badshah of Delhi Sultanate was drunk with power”. As per a RBI survey, consumer confidence, reflecting household perceptions and expectations on the general economic situation, the employment scenario and the overall price situation, slipped to 94.8 points, down from 98.3 this June.
According to economic analyst Ruchir Sharma, given that fragmented opposition is showing signs of coming together, PM Modi’s chances of getting re-elected in the 2019 elections have slipped from “99 per cent” in 2017 to “50 per cent”.
So it will be interesting to see what mandate do voters give in 2019 Elections.