It is raining promises. As it happens in every election. Like snowfall in the Hills in winter. Every election is fought on promises of all kinds. The general elections in 2014 saw the mother of all promises: Rs. 15 lakh to be credited to every account; two crore jobs every year; rupee to be made stronger at Rs 40 per dollar; farmers to get returns 50 per cent higher than their cost of production; and many more to hoodwink the voters. Now, at the end of the five years of Narendra Modi government, what is the fate of those promises. Not a penny of the promised Rs 15 lakh has landed in any of the accounts; as per latest statistics, the number of workers has shrunk in the country; unemployment rate is sky-rocketing; and dollar is hovering around Rs. 70. On agriculture produce, ask the farmers of Nasik in Maharashtra about onion prices; listen to the outbursts of farmers from Madhya Pradesh on tomato prices; allow the farmers of Western Uttar Pradesh to speak about sugarcane prices. Their stories will nail the lie on the promises on farm front.
The nation is on the threshold of yet another general election. As is the wont of political parties, people are being bombarded with promises by the ruling and the Opposition parties. The latest shot in this regard is the Congress party’s promise to provide for a minimum income of Rs. 72,000 per family per year which will cover 20 per cent of the people. Terming it as a surgical strike against poverty, Rahul Gandhi has added authenticity and credibility to his promise by asserting that the party has consulted many economists including former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan who have approved the scheme. However, it is for the voters to see through the promises of both the ruling and the opposition parties.
The BJP seems to have realized that promises alone will not work this time around. Hence Mr Modi is slowly turning focus away from the previous promises to emotional issues. Where promises fail, nationalism and patriotic feelings come to the rescue. The BJP and Sangh Parivar know it better than anyone else. Here comes the politicization of air strike on Jaish-e-Mohammad camp in Balakot in Pakistan and the latest successful test firing of the anti-satellite missile and its announcement by none-else but the Prime Minister himself.
However, the upcoming elections are much more than emotive issues. At individual level, it is nothing less than electing a government that will be mindful of people’s pressing demands for jobs, minimum support prices for farm produce, freedom of speech, right to life, and much more. At another level, it is about safeguarding constitutional bodies, democratic principles, and secular ethos which are under threat more viciously than ever before. The reported speech of BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj that there would be no more elections after the upcoming one if Narendra Modi is elected to power cannot be ignored as a maverick’s motor-mouthing. Maharaj is an influential senior BJP leader and four-time Lok Sabha member of the party. Hence, it is important that people don’t get sucked into the political propaganda of any party. They have to fact-check each promise and look beyond emotive outpourings.
(Published on 1st April 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 14)