That BJP lost an election it ought to have won is quite evident from various opinions in the mainstream media. BJP brought its downfall due to various strategies and now it needs to adjust its sails to continue with Modi’s reform agenda. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this will be a turning point of Modi regime, but some course correction is needed for the Bihar elections. Results in Bihar will have a bigger say in Indian politics (and UP politics), than many in the media want us to believe. Here are my suggestions to Prime Minister Modi to restart his winning spree.
Suggestion 1: Speak Up, Mr Prime Minister
The great Mohammad Ali had said, “Everyone has a strategy, till you land the first punch”. This is quite apt for you now. There have been various campaigns against you by the opposition parties and the media. You have been taking them, without responding. If this is a well-planned strategy – I would only be too happy to apologize later. If not, it is time for your first press conference as Prime Minister. Expose the media on its face that they created the lie of Rs 10 lakh suit. Convince the poor that funds collected from “Jan DhanYojana” were not given to Adani as loan (via SBI). Explain to the swing voters that BJP had nothing to do with Church burnings in Delhi. Soothe the nerves of sceptics that you are playing the long game and get their buy-in. Challenge the smart-asses in media to prove one allegation that they falsely level at you. Massage the egos of local leaders by talking about them and their achievements in your tweets. Expose the hypocrisy of the Obamas of this world by narrating horrendous stories in their countries.
Unless you start punching back, I am afraid, the muck will stick at you. I can promise you this – a lot of muck can stick on a 56″ chest. You are no longer the State leader who was wronged. If you had not responded then, people in Karnataka would not care less. You do not have that luxury now. Speak up and demolish their arguments.
Suggestion 2: Act against Vadra
During the peak of general elections, Ravi Shankar Prasad held a press conference with video clippings of “Damaad Shri”. Whatever happened on that front? When BJP questions Kejriwal for his inaction against Sheila Dixit, do not for a moment think that your “Damaad Shri” inaction has been forgotten. You mentioned in your interview with Arnab Goswami (in May 2014) that Rajasthan government will act on it. There is hardly any news on that. Moreover, if this is an issue to be dealt at state level, BJP had no business bringing this up during the general elections. If you don’t act against Vadra, the message that goes out is clear –“you are part of the elite”. No longer will the “chaiwala” argument hold water – it will appear, as though you used that card to join the club.
Suggestion 3: Talk up Agriculture / Farmers
Last 9 months had great news for me and I appreciate the steps taken by your government to kick-start reforms. I have no complaints whatsoever. However, there has been no news from the government regarding programs for the farmers. As things stand, the media narrative for farmers about Modi will be – “Modi rubs shoulders only with industrialists and world leaders. Modi stops MNREGA. Modi’s land acquisition ordinance is anti-farmer.”
Have you solved any problem in this sector? If yes, the government is doing a pathetic job marketing it. “Has the government built warehouses to store grains for long term? Has the government improved logistics for perishable products? Where is the new agriculture policy of your government?” – These were the points you talked about in your rallies. Other than intermittent news about changes in FCI and MRP changes for grains, there has been no development here.
Suggestion 4: Watch your back with Industry bigwigs
Despite a slew of reforms, we still keep hearing about the need for more reforms. I hope Arun Jaitley has something up his sleeve during the budget. At the same time, watch out! Till now, all the newsbytes from the corporate honchos are the usual homilies. They praised Manmohan Singh and they are doing the same with you. Even the RBI has begun its act now. “Is the capex cycle picking up? Have they increased hiring more now? Has the NPA fallen in the banks’ balance sheets” – I hope you are asking them these questions. Just like industries need reforms today, you will have to push them to start investing and increase hiring tomorrow. If the bigwigs continue lamenting lack of “big bang reforms”, then you are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Lesson 5: Act East
“Mother India needs both her shoulders to be equally developed. West is well developed, but the East has lagged” – this was your favourite line during the campaign in Bihar, Jharkhand, WB, Orissa and NE states. I am delighted that your government is actively engaging with NE states. However, other than coal reforms, there has been no “major” announcements for this region. I know results take time. But, elections are round the corner. Unless you want to announce new programs just before elections and sound like any other political party, time is running out! Other than naming many MPs from Bihar in the cabinet, there is hardly any positive news for Bihari people.
“Am I getting 24*7 electricity now? Am I getting drinking water now? Has my life improved in 9 months?” – these are some questions Bihar electorate will ask themselves before pressing the EVM. You know the answer to them better than most of us. As things stand, there WILL be second thoughts on pressing “kamalka button“.