Modi won because he delivered on his promises
The 2019 elections saw a high-pitched campaign spearheaded by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi who made it a point to give the report card of his government in all his electoral speeches as he simultaneously outlined his vision for the future of India. The results are an indication of the success of his governance, and delivery of numerous programmes and schemes. The strong performance of the incumbent indicates that the verdict was based on development that is visible across the nation. The key takeaway from the verdict is that governance is here to stay, and identity politics is on its last legs.
A characteristic feature of governance over the last five years is the insulation of governance from political considerations which made long pending structural reforms possible. Reforms such as demonetisation have been instrumental in nudging the economy towards formalisation and it has led to a definite improvement in direct tax compliance. On indirect taxes, the government introduced the much awaited Good and Services Tax which led to an improvement in tax collection while it has simultaneously reduced the burden of multiple indirect taxes on citizens due to a drastic reduction in the effective tax rates. Keeping with the commitment of finding long term solutions, the government enacted the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code to find a mechanism for facilitating the recovery of stressed assets.
The 2019 mandate in urban areas reflects a vote for strong macro fundamentals combined with the progressive agenda of reforms of the government. The impressive strides in upgradation and development of infrastructure, be it electricity, roads, digital, railways or other public transportation systems have grabbed the attention of the urban population which has reposed its faith in the leadership of PM Modi.
Another key takeaway of the 2019 verdict is that there is no urban-rural divide in support of the incumbent government. This is largely because a major area of focus for the government has been on inclusive development and this development can be seen and felt by the people of India. Consider the Jan Dhan Yojana, under which India moved from a little over 50% of financial inclusion to universal financial inclusion at the household level, currently having over 35 crore account holders. Using the Jan Dhan accounts combined with the Aadhaar platform, the government managed to systematically eliminate subsidy leakages from 440 schemes that now operate under the Direct Benefit Transfer mechanism. The government, for the first time, executed a direct income support scheme for the farmers under the PM-KISAN Yojana.
Consider the story of Chhattisgarh’s Rupa Kumari, who is one of the 1.5 crore people who got a house under the PM Awas Yojana. She is naturally inclined to have voted for a government that helped her in building a lifelong asset and provided her with a roof for her family. She is not alone as there are crores of families that have benefitted from one of the governments mega missions, be it the Ujjwala Yojana that ensured smoke free kitchens for over 7 crore families or the 9.8 crore people who got toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission or the 2.6 crore households that were electrified under the Saubhagya scheme.
The fact that such ambitious projects were undertaken, and that they were successful, is responsible for restoration of the credibility of both the government, and of governance because people could feel the impact of this transformation. It was this trust that made development a people’s movement, which helped in accelerating the pace of transformation of India. With the rise in aspirations, caste-based identity politics became redundant as citizens became concerned with issues of progress.
It is this scale and speed of transformation of India which explains how PM Modi managed to create history by becoming India’s first prime minister to be voted back to power in 20 years, and that too, with a bigger mandate. The support for PM Modi across the length and breadth of the country reinforces the fact that development and governance have been the nucleus of these elections and it bodes well for India.
Arvind Gupta is an Eisenhower Innovation Fellow and member of the WEF’s Digital Economy & Society Futures Council and currently CEO of MyGov.
The views expressed are personal.