Who will win the 2019 Parliamentary elections? The BJP or Congress? Will either of them get an absolute majority or will there be a fractured mandate? The country’s voters may well decide the fate of a new India, even as they desire for roti, kapda, makaan and rozgar. But the two mainstream parties need to find ways to fulfil these demands. At present, the Congress, with assembly victories in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, is in a jubilant mood. But it has to realise that it benefitted more from the anti-incumbency factor, the anger of the people who felt that they had to simply vote out the BJP. Yet, the results in MP and Rajasthan weren’t as decisive as they were predicted to be. Prime Minister Narendra Modi needs to brainstorm what went so wrong in just 54 months. Was it because of the hollow electoral promises? Was it because of a protest against increasing communalisation? Why did his charisma not work with the people this time?
Mohan Bhagwat, the chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) categorically said, “‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ is a political slogan, the RSS does not exclude anyone”. Perhaps, he saw the writing on the political wall before Modi. The core issue is not whether India becomes Congress-mukt or BJP mukt. It is whether the country’s polity will work within the spirit and framework of the Constitution.
In the midst of worrisome financial and economic crises, what are the planks on which the next national election will be fought? Will it be focused around the building of ‘Ram Mandir’? Will it flare up the emotions of the religious Indians? Or will there be a discussion on how to streamline the still-corrupt governance system?
Modi has to understand that India can’t blindly imitate the policies that have worked in developed nations. India does require administrative and economic reforms but, if done in a hurry, they can create a chaos. Even the Narasimha Rao-Manmohan Singh duo, followed by other PM-FM combinations, took 27 years to gradually implement reforms. This acclimatised the Indians to accept and imbibe them. At the same time, the aspirations of an Indian increases every day. Indeed, it is difficult for any political party to keep pace with them. Politicians can’t bamboozle the voters any longer. The revolutionary advent of social media has exposed the paradigm of the political spectrum.
The coming economic slowdown in 2019 will be critical, not just for India but for the world. Low inflation will drastically impact the agro-economy. Farmers are in distress. There is a liquidity crunch. The North Block mandarins are worried whether the government will issue directions to the RBI under Section 7 of RBI Act. The section can be invoked only in exceptional circumstances and many feel this is not the time to enforce Section 7.
Modi has realised that it is not easy to galvanise civil servants to implement the schemes of the central government in a federal structure. There are wheels within wheels in the governance module. Still, there are civil servants who are determined to minimise the systemic aberrations. Gfiles Governance Awards 2018 recognised nine such officers. The message is simple: technology and human interface of civil servants bring about drastic reforms in the normal lives of the citizens. These are the new heroes of a new India who shoulder their responsibilities without thinking about politics and, fortunately, without political interference. However, in a parliamentary democracy, the clamour for jobs and fulfilment of basic needs has to be heard. It’s time to perform or perish for the politicians, political parties, as also the civil servants. Hopefully, in 2019, Indians will decisively announce what they think constitutes the future roadmap of progress. Satyamev Jayate!