The new narrative: Good governance is good politics
“It’s the economy, stupid”, a phrase coined by campaign strategist James Carville during Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, was never synonymous with the Indian elections until 2019. For developed countries, the economy has always been the fulcrum of politics. In India, “voters do not cast their vote, but they vote their caste” is a popular saying. The 2019 elections have introduced a new narrative — good economics is good politics through social empowerment.
Putting the citizen first is the guiding principle of good governance. It is this ideology that brings stakeholders, the government and the citizens closer to each other. Good governance is the key to a country’s prosperity and progress. For this to happen, it is important that the citizens become active participants in governance. Swachh Bharat is a textbook example.
The redressal of public grievances assures the citizens that their vote has not gone wasted. Technology is an important tool for good governance as it ensures transparency and accountability which result in the betterment and welfare of all citizens. It also leads to the simplification of processes. The best example is the self-certification of startups introduced by the Narendra Modi government, exhibiting trust in their citizens. Digital India ensures that government services are available to the citizen with little human interference.
These features of good governance were the hallmark of the Modi-led National Democratic Alliance-I government. Social empowerment, which came through good economics, is now good politics.
Voters choose a stable government with a strong, decisive leadership. Now, development has become the buzzword. With the coming of age of social media, people can make more informed choices in many areas. Understanding this, Modi has mastered the skill of optimising social media as a tool to connect with the people.
For the first time, we are seeing a government that is determined to improve the socioeconomic status of the people. Niti Aayog selected 100 districts and called them Aspirational Districts, focusing on health and nutrition, education, agriculture and water resources, financial inclusion and skill development. These core areas have a direct bearing on the quality of life and the economic productivity of citizens. The prime minister himself, along with the Niti Aayog, monitors the outcomes on a continuous basis with the state governments.
In Uttar Pradesh, eight backward districts have been selected as aspirational: Balrampur, Shravasti, Bahraich, Siddharth Nagar, Chandauli, Sonbhadra, Fatehpur and Chitrakoot. They are already showing positive results. Such microplanning has never been seen in Indian political governance. Known popularly as the “Modi Development Model”, it was adopted by the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath. A state once known for bad roads, negligible electricity, the lack of doctors and teachers, farmers burdened with loans, and poor law and order, has turned around by adopting good economics with good politics. Within a year, the Adityanath government had received proposals worth Rs 4.68 lakh crore. Uttar Pradesh is gradually becoming the favourite stop for investors in India.
The new narrative for political parties has become development. The focus of voters is now performance and the economy has become an undisputable way to indicate growth and success. The electorate feels a direct connect to something tangible. The 2019 elections have given a new dimension to the phrase, good economics is good politics, but via social empowerment.
Sidharth Nath Singh is Cabinet minister for health (UP) and a government spokesperson
The views expressed are personal
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