Prime Minister, Narendra Modi with the Union Minister for Defence, Manohar Parrikar at Rajpath,on the occasion of the 67th Republic Day Parade 2016
By Vijay Sanghvi
People of India applauded seeing the French Legion as it marched on the Raj Path. It was the first time that foreign legion to participate in the Indian Republic Day parade. Many are left wondering at the openings of this sacred ceremony for foreign participation. The French president too seemed to be impressed by the Republic Day celebrations of which he was the Guest of Honour.
While politicians and bureaucrats were basking in the glorious sun, people in different parts of India were disappointed and disheartened. They were searching for the tremendous potential they felt on the day the Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office twenty months ago. On the Republic Day he completed twenty months, one-third of his five-year term in office.
His unexpected arrival on the national scene due to an unprecedented victory in the elections has generated waves of expectations of changing times with Many are left wondering at the openings of this sacred ceremony for reforms and upswing of the economy. Modi had specified his objectives during the campaign, what he intends to do. Young voters preferred a new face to replace the traditional political actors. His promises kindled high hopes in the industrial world and newcomers that change was around the corner. But in the end they see no change. The administration continues to grasp the system and oppose any change like it has been doing done for the past 60 years.
Modi has opened up several sectors of the economy. Defense is one such area where foreign investments gave partially been allowed. Modi has visited all developed nations to entice investors to bring their capital and technology to India with a promise of a smooth passage through the bureaucratic maze. No reforms are possible if there are resistance and opposition from within. His opponents outside are unable to relate with, and opponents within do not want to allow him to march ahead on the path of reforms he has introduced.
The old guards already running are in despair. They do not know whom to approach with their tales of harassment, arbitrary and penalizing edicts from the executive. Many new projects have been caught up in disputes and delays in their completion. Those of which got off the ground have not been allowed to earn enough to pay back their loans from banks.
Without comprehending the realities, private banks are charging a high rate of interest and driving most to them to bankruptcy. No authority is willing to intervene and control the penalization for no fault of theirs. They are unable to reach the authority, the Prime Minister for he has closed all his access.
He authorized officials in his meeting before meeting his cabinet colleagues to ignore political pressures and work. However, he created no alternate monitoring system to ensure that authorized officials deliver results in fair manners and without arbitrary imposition of their will. The political colleagues were deprived of their political authority. They could not have their personal staff selection as the Prime Minister’s Office usurped their right of appointment. It left an eerie dissatisfaction that sleuth has been set to over-watch their activities. No minister is willing to take any complaint to the Prime Minister for the fear of being suspected of vested interest in it.
In every political system, regardless of its nature and structure, the ruling group needs financial resources for its political activities and elections. Despite all claims of non-corrupt methods, even the current regime is in need of resources. The Prime Minister cannot run his election machinery and his campaign visits to different locations without financial support. Earlier, power brokers and middlemen knew locations of collection centres and their managers who could be accessed to reach the authority empowered to take decisions. Even legal and rightful works also need support when they run in expected difficult terrains beyond their control. Most entrepreneurs today know nothing of the operating underground system. They do not know where to turn to reach the top with their genuine grievances.
Another incongruity is in the second term given to Amit Shah as the Bharatiya Janata Party president. No one could understand why both the centres of power, the heads of the government and the party are allotted to one state only. The first term to him was justified because he had worked wonder in getting 71 of 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh. If his machinations were a miracle why his magic did not work only two months later in bye-elections to 12 of assembly seats? Could the party not win back eight of its ten seats won earlier in the election assembly Eve in a face of rising tide of the Samajwadi Party? Why could he not trounce the Shiva Sena in Maharashtra or win the Delhi and Bihar? Haryana came to the BJP more due to infighting within the Congress is accepted the fact.
The Prime Minister does not depend on the party structure for his mass contact, nor the party is given an opportunity to express their views and their assessment of changing ground realities openly. No party session has been organized in twenty months for free debate so the party can relate itself to what the prime minister intends to do. He communicates with masses through the telecom mediums to share his views and also to get the feedback. There is a vast difference in written representation and personal hearing. But access to the Prime Minister for the common man remains tightly shut not only because of the security needs but also from his desire to leave impression that he keeps away from power brokers. They do not wait in his anteroom as usually had happened… He has no doubt learnt a lot about realities, needs and aspirations of masses but the truth does not remain static or pegged to a single time slot. Indian people have undergone a drastic transformation in last two decades, and his election is evidence of it. They despised conventional politics. But they did not expect the unconventional politics that Narendra Modi has delivered to them. Businessmen have not proposed new ventures in the last twenty months only because they cannot run in blind alleys. The promises of change remain in the air to cause despair and disappointments. Intelligence Bureau cannot deliver political assessments that political minds can. He does does not use them.