To say that the 2018 Assembly Election results were unexpected would be an understatement. Well, one thing is sure, it does act as a speedbreaker in what the BJP assumed to be a smooth sail to the 2019 General Elections. Different political parties and leaders have spoken vocally about the anti-BJP mandate that’s come through. But in this context, I find Mr Jaitley’s comment particularly interesting. He says the mandate that BJP received across the states is “an opportunity to pause and analyse.” Indeed the time has come for the BJP to come down from their castle in the air and make realistic assessment of the actual situation.
I am sure Mr Modi completely understands that 2019 is no 2014. Congress is under no anti-incumbency threat, new combinations are being formulated all the time and going is far more difficult than what was perceived in the beginning. Needless to mention BJP is feeling the pressure and we can smell the potential urge to undertake popular moves to woo the voters. Whether you consider the recent clamoring protests about the Hindutva hue and cry, the stepping down of RBI Governor, the rising rate of interests, all point to just one fact that the BJP needs to pause and rethink on the course ahead.
Given the fact that the recent defeats cover three prominent agro-economies, the expectation is that the BJP might as well go on an overdrive to win over the rural votes. Sops and loan waivers for farmers could well be on their way. With the clock ticking for the 2019 general elections, the expectation is that other measures to support farmers and the agri-economy may be well on its way as well. The Congress had used the huge farm loan waiver of almost 72000 crores in 2008 to return with a bigger and more convincing mandate in 2009. Given the state of the current economy, any such loan waiver can widen the fiscal deficit to a gaping 3.5% of the GDP. It also risks putting the other elements of the economy in jeopardy as a result of the stress that this may stir.
But that said, it will serve Mr Modi well to focus on the reasons that won him the mandate in 2014. People were tired of inaction, popular measures, Govt apathy towards dwindling jobs, liquidity crunch, road blocks in the way of industries and running businesses were some of the key triggers. I will not deny that it was not an absolute dud for the Modi Government but I am sure you will agree it is the mere tip of a very stressed iceberg that our economy is. It is therefore pertinent that Mr Modi pulls his act together and as fast as he can. The Modi government surely needs to put forth a practical and realistic game plan going ahead if they want to redeem themselves in the forthcoming general election in 2019.