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ET EDIT-Bugle Call From the Red Fort’s Ramparts The PM makes the case for his reelection in 2019

August 16, 2018 06:42 AM


Bugle Call From the Red Fort’s Ramparts
The PM makes the case for his reelection in 2019
It is the privilege of an incumbent prime minister to launch his re-election campaign from the ramparts of the Red Fort, in the course of delivering the final Independence Day address of his term. Prime Minister Narendra Modi used that prerogative to his advantage. He counted his government’s achievements, asserted that governments before his had badly underperformed, attributed his government’s success to decisive leadership and, in subtle and non-subtle ways, presented himself as the leader the country needs to continue the good work, at least till 2022, the year in which Independent India would turn 75 and see farmer incomes double.

No one can grudge him the capacity to project leadership or communicate effectively his achievements. The predecessor UPA government, in contrast, failed to claim any credit for the telecom revolution it engineered — rural teledensity soared from 1.5% to 45% over its tenure — the fastest rates of growth India has ever achieved, a sharp fall in poverty, brisk reduction in maternal and infant mortality, electrification of 97% of India’s nearly six lakh villages, comprehensive food security, the Indo-US nuclear deal that ended India’s pariah status for sensitive technologies and opened doors to technology control regimes. The UPA can blame only itself for letting its successor regime portray its tenure as a lost decade. So too, if PM Modi can use, unchallenged, the achievements of India’s space programme and the lifting of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Tripura in 2015 to add to his own lustre.

Scrapping state monopoly over coal and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code are two pathbreaking reforms PM Modi can claim credit for. However, his assertion that no one can take the law into their own hands is not enough amends for the gradual spread of a culture of lynching, often with political patronage. The tension and trade-offs between prosperity and sectarian exclusivity inherent in the BJP’s political platform will play out in the elections that are less than a year away. The PM has laid out his cards. Over to the Opposition.

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