Lok Sabha election results 2019: GST, demonetisation had no impact on the ground
Even though the Congress and other Opposition parties raised the two issues throughout the campaign, the results show that they failed to reap any political benefit out of it.Updated: May 23, 2019 12:21 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) performance in both urban and rural constituencies across the country prove that the 2016 invalidation of high-value banknotes and the 2017 introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) did not have a negative impact on the party’s political prospects.
Even though the Congress and some Opposition parties raised the two issues throughout the campaign, but the results show that they failed to reap any political benefit out of it.
The Narendra Modi government pulled out high-value currency note from the economy in November 2016 and rolled out the GST in 2017; inviting criticism from Opposition parties that the two decisions allegedly crippled the economy, dealt a blow to businesses, lessened job opportunities and caused discomfort to people, particularly in the country’s rural areas where cash was predominantly the preferred mode of transaction.
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Congress president Rahul Gandhi, in particular, was relentless in his criticism of the two economic schemes.
“We will simplify the tax regime. We will remove ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’ and bring about the GST,” Gandhi had said at a public meeting in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, on April 20.
“Unemployment rose as soon as Narendra Modi imposed demonetisation. As soon as your money was taken from you, you stopped buying and the producers stopped producing. The economy of the country was destroyed,” he said at Tikamgarh in Madhya Pradesh on May 1.
The talking points in Gandhi’s speeches, however, could not translate on to the ground.
It has been more than two-and-a-half years since demonetisation and close to two years since GST was rolled out. This meant that the two issues and the struggles that came with their introduction appear to have largely receded from public memory; instead, a large majority of voters appear to have seen the moves as examples of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decisive action against corruption and black money.
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Experts feel that Modi was able to convince voters about his intent.
“Narendra Modi was able to convey this message that he was after the corrupt and his actions, irrespective of the immediate and short-term discomfort, were aimed at a larger good,” said Sidharth Mishra, president, Centre for Reforms Development and Justice.
“The poor were ready to take a hit, and Modi compensated them through several welfare measures,” he added.
In an interview for a TV news channel, Modi said people voted on demonetisation during the 2017 assembly election in Uttar Pradesh and on GST in the 2018 assembly election in Gujarat. The BJP won both elections.
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The 2019 Lok Sabha results show that the BJP has performed well both in the rural and the urban area, among poor as well as the business community. In its campaign, the BJP kept its focus on the promise that the work started by Narendra Modi needed another five-year term to achieve its goal. And voters bought this argument.