Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) and president of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Amit Shah gesture as they celebrate the victory in India's general elections, in New Delhi on May 23, 2019.(AFP)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) and president of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Amit Shah gesture as they celebrate the victory in India's general elections, in New Delhi on May 23, 2019.(AFP)

Modi govt set to reach out to masses with list of accomplishments to mark its anniversary

On Sunday, the NDA government completes a year in office amid the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By Smriti Kak Ramachandran
UPDATED ON MAY 29, 2020 07:27 PM IST

If the first anniversary of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s first term in the office was marked by global outreach and the promise of becoming one of the world’s fastest-growing economies; the first year of the second term has seen the government tick nearly all of the boxes for key poll promises, some dating back to decades.

On Saturday, the NDA government completes a year in office amid the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic. The government’s report card has a long list of accomplishments even as it is struggles to revive the economy, save jobs and lives due to the viral outbreak.

There was shock and awe when within two months after coming back to power, as the government accomplished what was perceived to be unattainable --- the scrapping of Article 370 from Jammu & Kashmir that stripped the border state of its special status. The BJP-led government had a string of successes within the first six months of its rule such as getting Parliament’s nod for banning triple talaq; allowing citizenship to persecuted minorities from south Asian countries; and receiving a favourable Supreme Court verdict on the Ramjanmabhoomi case, paving the way for the construction of the Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya.

However, the achievements were marred by violent clashes that broke out over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the proposed National Register for Citizens (NRC), and the Delhi riots that left at least 53 people dead earlier this year, apart from the economic disruptions.

But the government is all set to reach out to the masses with a long list of its accomplishments, where its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has claimed over 4,000 lives to date, tops the list.

The BJP will reach out to the public with letters from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, focusing on the theme of self-reliance or Atama Nirbharta and the party workers will make use of the virtual world to publicise the success story scripted by the government in its first year of rule in the second successive term.

“The BJP has kept its promises. Most of the poll promises were fulfilled within six months of assuming office. Even during the pandemic the government has ensured that there is a fair distribution of resources and prevented unrest, which is a huge achievement,” said Bhupinder Yadav, general secretary, BJP.

The pandemic has given the government a chance to prove its mettle, Yadav said, despite casting a pall of gloom over the first anniversary celebrations.

“PM Modi’s initiatives, whether it was the timing of the lockdown or the Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package, have been appreciated globally. India has played a lead role in galvanising countries to fight the pandemic in a united manner,” Yadav said.

While the opposition parties critical of the government’s response to the pandemic cite the hardships faced by the poor and the migrant workers as a major failure and question the timing of anniversary celebrations, Yadav said it is the responsibility of the government to present its report card.

Is the government’s response to the economic upheaval a measure of its performance, as the pandemic appeared to have halted the country’s bid to achieve the $5 trillion economy goal by 2024-25?

Prof Biswajit Dhar of the Jawaharal Nehru University (JNU) said there is enough room for the government to do more and it is not the time to take credit.

“The government has to redouble its efforts. Pre-Covid-19 also the economy was going downhill, as we had registered one of the weakest growth for several quarters for a long time. One thing, which is common between then and now, is that there is a greater role for government involvement and role for fiscal policy to help us weather the storm and we haven’t seen that happen. Even now the government is not willing to use the fiscal space adequately, even the IMF (International Monetary Fund) has spoken about it,” he said.

Dhar suggested the government a roadmap, as the markets have collapsed completely.

“…You cannot expect the private sector to borrow money or come up with investment; that was not happening even before Covid-19 struck, despite the tax benefits to the corporates. We didn’t see adequate investments coming in because there was a demand deficiency. We expect the government to be more pro-active,” he said.

Political analyst Sanjay Kumar of the Centre for Studies of Developing Societies (CSDS) said the government may want to create a buzz around the demand for building of the Ram temple and scrapping of Article 370 being met, but it also has to address the concerns that the lockdown was ill-planned and the migrant workers have been left to fend for themselves. “We have to see how they carry out damage control on that front,” he said.

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