Indian people

Prime Minister Modi’s Balakot dream: Indians will see through his plans, says P Chidambaram


Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi (Image: PTI)

The Electoral Commission sounded the bugle on Sunday March 10, 2019. They had done their last act of favor to the government. The announcement was received with a huge sigh of relief by the population: there will be no more foundation stones, no more prescriptions, and no more desperate “kicks” of ill-conceived and under-funded projects. According to one charge, the Prime Minister had “inaugurated” or “laid the foundation for” 155 projects since the end of the session of Parliament on February 13.

Here is a hilarious example. The Ahmedabad metro had been under construction for a long time, since work had started on March 14, 2015. It was not making much progress. The government of Gujarat was the object of ridicule. It was decided to “complete” a section and inaugurate the “service”. Thus, 6.5 km of the metro line were hastily completed. On March 4, 2019, the Prime Minister proudly inaugurated the service.

The story does not end there. There are 6.5 km of tracks but only two stations; the other stations are under construction. What works now is practically a joy train – no tickets, no fees, just a free ride!

Say yes or no

Now to serious problems. About 90 crore of eligible voters will vote to elect a new government. The main problem will be the performance of the Modi government. Some questions are relevant:

1. Do you feel like a free citizen in a free country and aren’t you afraid of being lynched, robbed, beaten, boycotted or discriminated against because of your religion, caste or language? If you are a woman, aren’t you afraid of being harassed or assaulted?
2. Are you sure your conversations or messages will not be spied on by the government?
3. Do you think that a large number of jobs have actually been created over the past five years? If you are a parent, are you sure your son / daughter will find a job soon? (According to the CMIE, 312 lakh people were actively looking for a job at the end of February 2019.)
4. If you are a farmer, do you think your lot has improved over the past five years? Has your income increased? Are you happy to be a farmer and will you encourage your son / daughter to become a farmer?
5. Do you think demonetization was a good idea? Do you think you benefited from demonetization? Do you think the country’s economy has benefited from demonetization?
6. Do you think the GST, with its multiple tax rates and three returns per month, has benefited micro, small and medium industries? Do you think it’s easy for a small business owner to comply with the GST law? Do you think businessmen are satisfied with
how the GST was applied?
7. Did the Modi government keep its key election promises – “15 lakh to each person’s bank account,” 2 crore jobs per year, bringing black money hidden abroad, “40 for an American dollar, putting an end to terrorism especially in Jammu & Kashmir and, more generally, that the achche din will come to India?
8. Do you think that the muscular, militaristic and majority approach of the Modi government towards Jammu and Kashmir will end the violence and bring peace to this state, especially in the Kashmir valley?

Mr. Modi and his friends

9. Do you believe that Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi fled India without knowing
the government?
10. Do you think that the Rafale agreement concluded by the Modi government was perfectly clear and that no favor was granted to a private company to the detriment of HAL? Do you think that nothing needs to be studied in the Rafale agreement: price, reduced number of aircraft, exemptions granted, delivery schedule, choice of compensation partner, etc.
11. Do you think leading investigative agencies such as CBI, ED, income tax etc. were fair and independent? Did the infighting within the CBI strengthen the credibility of the agency?
12. Was it correct to award the six airport privatization contracts (Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Jaipur, Lucknow, Mangaluru and Thiruvananthapuram) to a single company in Gujarat? Do you think it was a routine decision?

Frenzy or wisdom

These questions capture the real issues facing the country. If you, as a citizen, are concerned about the real issues, I ask you to answer the questions. You can say yes or you can say no, but you cannot ignore the questions. The Modi government’s last hope is that you ignore the issues or at least they will be swept away by the “fervor” of nationalism following the Indian Air Force strike on Balakot in Pakistan.

The IAF belongs to the country and is the pride of every Indian. Pulwama was a government failure, Balakot was the IAF success, Pakistan’s retaliation the next day was another government failure.

Pulwama-Balakot is not an answer to any of the questions listed above. It will not banish fear, create jobs, ease the distress of farmers, revive MSMEs, bring back Mallya, Nirav Modi or Choksi, or detain investigative agencies, or bring back peace in the Kashmir valley.

The electoral speeches of Mr. Narendra Modi focus on the action of the IAF in Balakot and aim to stir up the frenzy of the voters. He hopes Balakot will lead him to victory. I believe the Indians are wiser.


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