The NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi was swept into power a year ago fueled by a tide of expectations and hopes for speedy development and an end to corruption and poverty.
To understand the political economy the nation has seen in the past year, The Press Club held a panel discussion on: ‘One Year Of Modi Sarkar’ with Rajdeep Sardesai, Consulting Editor with ‘Headlines Today’ and Minhaz Merchant, senior political columnist and Founder of Merchant Media on Friday.
“Narendra Modi has changed the face of Indian politics. To be fair to him, he has brought a lot of visible energy to the government in the past one year,” said Rajdeep Sardesai. “Contrast his prime ministership with that of Manmohan Singh. It was not that Manmohan Singh did not go to other countries. In fact, when he went to Germany, we got far more investments from the Germans but the overall choreography has created a sense of energetic dynamism which has infused a sense of hope among industry and people. A sense that you finally have a leader.”
Sardesai also opined that the PM’s strength could also his biggest weakness; namely the concentration of power around one person. “The PM’s strength is that he is very good at executing projects but he also needs to understand that he alone cannot get everything done. We are seeing that he is understanding this slowly. He needs the support of people like Mayawati, Mamta Banerjee, etc. to pass his legislations,” he said. He also added that the bureaucracy has been used to a certain way of functioning and they are now trying to come to terms with the PM’s dynamism and way of working.
Merchant, meanwhile, opined that private equity investment has increased, which he called an indication of the hope people still hold with Modi’s leadership. He also expressed surprise over the Congress targeting Modi with the line ‘suit-boot ki sarkar’. “If you see Modi has been actually been keeping the industrialists at arm’s length and not allowing them to get any unlawful benefits,” he said. Sardesai also agreed that even industrialists who thought that the Modi sarkar would lead to quick benefits have been made to wait till the various schemes reach fruition.
Among the things that Merchant expressed displeasure in the one year of government were the regressive taxation and, what Merchant said, was the lack of a proper and strict foreign policy in relation to Pakistan.
Sardesai was of the opinion that it will be very important for Modi to ensure that the concentration of power around his personality does not lead to a lack of initiative among the bureaucracy and his own ministers due to fear. He also said that the minister will need to ensure that the regional BJP leadership is strengthened in preparation of key election in 2017. “Modi has cracked social media but he is not going to understand the problems being faced by farmers by being on Twitter,” he said.