India shining, a significant yet failed political marketing campaign during the run-up to the 2004 Lok Sabha elections spearheaded by the dynamic late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan is a fine example of what happens when you try to prescribe the antibiotic of ‘Vikas’ to every problem facing India. L.K. Advani, the then Deputy PM, described the ‘India shining’ campaign as “valid,” but “inappropriate for our election campaign… By making them verbal icons of our election campaign, we gave our political opponents an opportunity to highlight other aspects of India’s contemporary reality… which questioned our claim.”
The prescription of ‘Vikas’ kind of, worked in 2014. The onset of anti-incumbency against Congress and the uncovering of scams after scams inflicted by the Congress only accelerated the need for change. ‘Vikas’ and ‘Jobs’ in this case. Only this time, the resistance to this drug has set in, both in the opposition and the core voters alike.
Making no mistake, PM Modi has brought in some monumental changes in the way politics shapes governance. He has delivered wonderfully on domains like security, social welfare, energy and infrastructure and foreign policy. Let us take the ‘Ujjwala yojana’ for example. A social transformation is clearly visible. This scheme has transformed lives in rural India. In fact, after the disastrous scam ridden period of INC, a full term without any major scams in itself is a big achievement. A big thumbs up to Modi on that.
But, when it comes to the concern of the core voters, PM Modi has failed miserably. The demands of whom are not unreasonable, to say the least, most of which were part of BJP’s manifesto during 2014, yet not even a single issue relating to Core1 have been taken up by this government even after completing 4 years in power.
Let us take two main issues which were prominently mentioned in their 2014 manifesto. Ram Mandir and Uniform Civil code. Ram Mandir has been a flashpoint in Hindutva politics and has been exploited politically by parties, mainly BJP. Yet, we haven’t seen any resolve on BJP’s part to build a Ram Mandir anytime soon. It has been a position of the party that the matter is sub-judice and the govt can’t do much until the matter is before SC. In such a case, it would be fair on BJP’s part to eliminate the Ram Mandir issue from its manifesto altogether if it can’t do anything about it and the court has to decide on it. Any credible effort so far is by Subramanyam Swamy in this matter.
In July when SC vacation ends I shall as suggested by CJI make in Mention in CJI Court for an early date for my WP on Ram Mandir and seek day to day hearing
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) May 27, 2018
Uniform Civil Code is one more such issue where BJP and PM Modi are displaying the ostrich syndrome. It comes without saying that the Uniform Civil Code is a complex issue in a multi-faith country like India. Yet, it doesn’t negate the importance of bringing such law where non-implementation would be in direct violation of article 44 of our constitution. The only effort made by this government in this matter so far is by ‘asking’ the law commission to look into this matter. It is only in the early stages in this matter, but the persuasive intent of this govt is clearly missing.
There are a host of other issues concerning the core voters like the abrogation of Article 370, freeing of Hindu temples from govt control, repealing Right to education (RTE), population control act and so on. RTE, for example, is a very discriminatory legislation where the only majority owned institutions are subject to this. An epidemic of the closure of schools has followed ever since this law has been enacted.
The below tweet clearly explains the discriminatory nature of RTE on majority ‘Hindu’ owned institutions.
"Mazhar Khan, a parent, said…"
RTE does not apply to schools run by RoP but schools run H have to give RTE seats to RoP. [Even RoP Harris family – the recent gundagiri fame – runs schools in Bengaluru]
This is Jaziya. U celebrate Savarkar but do thishttps://t.co/H3S28fbMNo
— Tracking Evangelism (@trackevangelism) May 29, 2018
The least expected from this government is including minority-owned institutions without discrimination on the religious basis under RTE, but no intent has been seen so far.
If anything that can be learned from the recent Karnataka polls is those core ideological policies pays a good dividend. The Congress party never abandoned it’s minority appeasement and has reaped handsomely with minority votes in the Karnataka polls. Same goes with BJP where the coastal Karnataka has rewarded BJP where issues were mainly ideological. Muslims didn’t vote the ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ ideology even though PM Modi is going out of his way, even at the expense of alienation of core ideological voters to appease minorities.
With other factors weighing in this time where government claims can be contested, such as job creation, demonetization, ease of doing business, manufacturing (Make in India) etc, it would be a very challenging task for Modi to contest this election on the same planks as 2014. And in such a situation, abandoning core ideologies and voters is definitely not the way to go.
Poll demographical statistics are ruthless, all it takes is a chunk of disappointed ideological voters to stay at home on polling day and the hoopla around ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ would go for a toss. We exactly have a year to go for the 2019 polls and a lot can be done in this time concerning core voters. All it needs is a sure shot intent and not just lip service to keep the ideological pot boiling. The time is now.