Everywhere I have been within the country in the last one month, I heard most people expressing displeasure on the present government’s performance. Naturally, the present government for all those folks is ‘Modi Ji’, as that was the idea based on which BJP started its election campaign which ultimately resulted in the massive electoral victory in 2014. But why is everyone unhappy? Let us take it step by step.
Well, for starters, the present government boosted the hopes of the people Himalayan high in the aftermath of its election victory only to be let down later. Rhetoric and the high drama was the norm immediately before and after the election. But ultimately promises were not delivered as people had expected, and eventually their hopes shattered. Even worse, people were put through a lot of hardships especially with the demonetisation policy.
But hopes were running high even during the din of the demonetisation drive as people believed that it is was a strong measure against corruption and black money, and they were in fact happy to go through a little hardship in the hope of relishing the benefits later. But that ‘later’, never arrived. Now, it is very much apparent that the demonetisation policy which was applied without adequate preparation failed to achieve its intended objective. It particularly hit the unorganised sector very hard and reportedly several jobs were lost in the formal and informal sector. Demonetisation probably did lot more damage to the economy than the 2008 global financial crisis. At the level of the aam admi, the proper word to use would be disappointment.
The next big thing that hit the hopes of the people were the banks. Faced with a massive non-performing asset (NPA), a UPA legacy but was left unaddressed for three long years by the Modi government, and the increasing stress of having to pay interest on all the money returned during the demonetisation probably pushed the banks to adopt absurd and unethical measures like introducing transaction limits and a hoard of other charges on the customers. It started off as withdrawal limit and latter was termed as transaction which includes cash deposits as well. A while later, the minimum balance rule was imposed. Probably for the first time in independent India’s history, public sector banks started to behave like private financial institutions resulting in the severe erosion of trust that people have on the PSU banks, particularly on the State Bank of India (SBI).
Certainly, no one would like their money to be taken this way!! After all, banks make profits via loans and other instruments using the money deposited by its customers. Technically, the depositors are the capital investors for the banks but for meagre returns (read interests on deposit). But all this was done in the name of promoting digital economy which, again, was a mindless measure as it is dragging down the economy where the informal sector is the worst hit.
Next came the GST, again an ill-conceived policy unmindfully applied in quick succession to the demonetisation policy. The small and medium businesses of the organised and unorganised sector were already reeling under the adverse effects of the note ban and the GST further aggravated their condition with its unrealistic compliance rules. This crushed many small businesses resulting in severe job losses. Already, job creation is at its all-time low with hardly any results visible on the present government’s grand employment creation programmes like the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana and start-up India initiative.
Apart from the economic disaster, the present government earned the disrespect and anger of the people from several states. Take for example Tamil Nadu, a state which is very sensitive when it comes to the question of its language. Modi government stirred up the hornet’s nest by trying to push certain policies which are seen by the Tamil people as an attempt by the centre to force Hindi on them. Further pushing the Navodhya school system and NEET are seen as something that will certainly do a lot of damage to the social inclusion the state had managed to achieve in education and health in all these decades since independence. There were protests in Karnataka too against using Hindi signboards in the newly opened metro rail. The BJP government should understand that India is a diverse state in terms of culture, language and ethnicity and that national integration will better be achieved by accepting and appreciating this diversity than by attempting to destroy it.
These are only some of the reasons for the increasing displeasure of the people against the government. There are numerous other reasons across the length and breadth of this country. To put it in a nutshell, the Modi government has so far made too much rhetoric with very little constructive actions on the ground. Certain radical policies and actions by the government and the ruling party have already hurt the sentiments of the people and did to some extent alienate certain sections. If this trend continues, there will absolutely be no hope for BJP in the 2019 elections unless the NDA government somehow brings the drowning economy back on its track within the less than two year timeframe available. For this, it needs nothing less than a miracle!