Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government established its credentials as a decisive administration in its first 100 days, a radical departure from the UPA which dragged its feet on key policy decisions as it waited for direction from the Congress high command or approval from its allies.
But the new government came under attack from the Congress which said it was showcasing UPA flagship schemes and policies as its own. "Who started Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan in every village? Who made construction of toilets a part of MGNREGA?" Congress chief Sonia Gandhi asked, in an apparent reference to the prime minister’s push for sanitation and toilets in his Independence Day speech.
She also said that there had been a spurt in communal violence in the country during the NDA’s first 100 days in office. Modi took office in May with a promise to restore economic momentum and end years of policy paralysis.
He hit the ground running by energising the bureaucracy and announcing a lean cabinet in a bid to streamline operations. Within a month, his government ushered in several key reform measures in labour laws, the judicial system and the financial sector.
It also took the bold step to announce the steepest hike in railway fares. In contrast, former rail minister Lalu Prasad refused to hike fares in any class in 2004.
In line with his mantra of “minimum government, maximum governance”, the PM scrapped the Group of Ministers (GoM) and Empowered GoMs, which the previous UPA government used to defer contentious policy decisions. The number of cabinet committees was also reduced.
Parliament got off to a slow start, but at the end of the first session, the Centre had chalked up a long list of reformist legislation. The judicial appointments bill seeking to introduce transparency while appointing senior judges, pending for 24 years, also cleared Parliament.
The government accelerated the labour reforms process by introducing two bills aiming to revamp archaic labor laws to make it easier to do business in India.
The UPA had introduced but failed to push the Factories (Amendment) Bill and the Apprentices (Amendment) Bill. However, its plans to allow more foreign investment in the insurance sector could not be passed in the budget session because of stiff opposition by the Congress and other opposition parties.
The UPA introduced the insurance bill in 2008.