Expressways, vikas and the disaster of anti-Modi alliances

Today Prime Minister Narendra Modi, now in the fifth year of his term, inaugurated two mega expressways. The first of these is a phase of the 14 lane Delhi-Meerut Expressway that connects the capital to the UP border. That’s right. Fourteen lanes.

The second is 135 kilometres of the Eastern Peripheral Expressway, stretching the length of the National Capital Region, bypassing Delhi, connecting Ghaziabad and Greater Noida on the UP side to Faridabad and Palwal on the Haryana side.

Some of you might remember July 2016, when a traffic jam in the Delhi-Gurgaon area came to dominate the ‘national’ news. Remember how Modi’s usual detractors in media, Congress and AAP jumped into the act and made a national spectacle out of a jam on the road? Remember?

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Indeed, under BJP governments, even traffic snarls can become national news. From parts of the country administered by ‘secular’ governments, goons of the ruling party going on a murder and gangrape spree rarely make the news.

So today’s two new gleaming expressways in the Delhi-NCR region are the answer to the question the opposition was asking in July 2016. By the way, Mr Sisodia, how is that free Wifi in Delhi coming along?

In fact, Narendra Modi and Nitin Gadkari today are following in the footsteps of the previous NDA government of Atal Behari Vajpayee. Lest we forget, here is what Manmohan Singh’s government admitted before the Supreme Court in 2013:

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From the ToI report:

“In an interesting affidavit filed before the apex court, the Centre said the length of national highways in the country was 29,023 km in 1980, which expanded to 76,818 km by the end of 2012. This means 47,795 km of national highways was added by successive governments in 32 years.

However, the affidavit revealed that during 1997-2002 (ninth five-year plan), when the NDA was in power, 23,814 km of national highways were added to the existing NH network or nearly 50% of the total length of national highways constructed in three decades. This remains the largest construction of national highways during any five-year period since independence.

In fact, during the nearly 10-year rule of the UPA government, the total length of national highways laid was much less – nearly 16,000 km, the affidavit said.”

There is a lesson for the Indian voter here. What would you rather have? A BJP government that can be taken to task over a traffic jam? Or a government under which ruling party goons regularly gangrape and murder dissenters while the crimes go unnoticed and unpunished?

A relentless, hate-filled media and establishment keep the BJP government on its toes. That is how you get BJP to build the Eastern Peripheral Expressway. That is why it so happens that half of all the highways constructed in India between 1980 and 2012 were built during the BJP’s 5-6 year term.

What can the Congress offer you? A pliant media and establishment given to covering up their corruption and inefficiency? Along with a cap with the words “I am <Insert Caste>”?

Is that all you want? A cap with your caste written on it?

There is one more story here that must be told. Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of the Eastern Peripheral Expressway on November 5, 2015.

If you remember correctly, three days later, Narendra Modi suffered the biggest setback of his Prime Ministership: a massive defeat at the hands of the “Mahagathbandhan” in Bihar.

The Prime Minister was able to keep his promise: in just 30 months, he has dedicated the Expressway to the service of the nation.

What became of the ragtag Mahagathbandhan that was forged in Bihar to stop Modi? It crumbled to dust under the weight of its own contradictions.

Today the nation is witnessing the formation of a much larger, much more unholy alliance. Anything to keep Modi out of power. A challenge has been thrown to the intelligence of the voter. The example of Bihar is before our eyes. In Karnataka, the circus has only just begun. The real loser in each case is the people. Will the voter rise to the occasion in 2019?

Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.

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