Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The many mistakes of Narendra Modi

Vox Populi is Vox Dei. The voice of the people is the voice of God. Whatever  your political leanings, it's hard not feel a sense of exhilaration over the outcome of the Delhi elections.The people have spoken- and how!

It's not just a vote for Kejriwal & Co. It's a vote against the NDA government. It's an expression of anger against the Modi and the BJP. That alone can explain the margin of victory of Aap.

How has this come about? Why are the voters of Delhi so angry? Let me list what I think are some of the mistakes Modi has made. Some of these points may have been made by others but I'd like to add my own little voice:

i. Choosing Kiran Bedi over the heads of long-serving leaders of the Delhi BJP: Harsh Vardhan, now a minister in Modi's cabinet, was a five-time MLA. He's known for his probity. He was discarded in favour of an outsider. Moreover, an outsider who had been baiting politicians, including Modi, until very recently. This angered not just BJP workers but the electorate. What was on display was the politics of opportunism.

ii. The Land Acquisition ordinance: This allows the government to grab people's land without their consent. The slum-dwellers of Delhi must  have reckoned that, if the government could grab land that poor people owned, they wouldn't think very hard about uprooting poor people who were sitting on land they didn't own (whatever the poll promises of the BJP).

iii. Proximity to industrial houses: We've had so many functions where the leaders of industrial houses, some of whom are close to the BJP, have showed up. It's not a good for politicians in India to advertise their proximity to industrial houses. The BJP came to perceived as the wrong AAP- Ambani and Adani Party.

iv. Making a huge spectacle of the Obama visit:Ok, you wanted to get the US president over. But was it necessary to make such a spectacle out of it? There's a difference between being comfortable with world leaders and grandstanding.

v. Flaunting the Rs 10 lakh suit: Especially on the social media, the impact of the monogrammed suit was hugely negative. People had voted in Modi because they identified with and admired his chaiwallah background. What they saw in the suit was somebody very different, a member of the Delhi elite.

Modi rode to power on the strength of the perception that he was an outsider who would bring to the capital a very different style of leadership, one that resonated with the aspirations of the aam admi. In his nine months in power, Modi began to look like any other member of the Delhi Durbar. This was disappointing. That disappointment has made its felt.

It's a setback but not the end of the road. Modi is a seasoned leader, somebody with the capacity to learn from mistakes. He must go back to being his original self, a leader with a natural empathy for the section of society from where he comes. And he has to make adaptations to the economic model he followed in Gujarat. He must not forget that, at least in the immediate future, the only economics that will work is one that is resolutely people-oriented- and seen to be so.


Anonymous said...

Hi Prof,

Add to that the reduction in inflation was not uniform. Some basket of food items remain costlier.

I think the load of expectations with which the Modigovt has taken charge is becoming difficult for govt. to manage.

Would like to see from you if you also support public investment as some commentators are arguing.

- Deeps

T T Ram Mohan said...

Yes, I support increased public investment, will have a post on this soon.


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