After a spectacular 2014, will Narendra Modi be a star in 2015 as well?
When the present political landscape of India will be chronicled, 2014 will be remembered as the year that belonged to the current Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and how he created history and took his party to heights not witnessed before. It will also be remembered as the year when India’s oldest political party, the Congress, plummeted to such lows never seen before mainly because it could not fight the onslaught launched against it by a 'chaiwala' from Gujarat.
If one were to go a few years back in time and remember the political discourse of the country then one would remember that the very thought of the then Gujarat chief minster becoming the prime minister of the country one day was frowned upon or dismissed or seen as something that would never happen.
After all Modi was seen as a former RSS pracharak, a divisive figure, arrogant and dictatorial. He was also seen as someone who was not a pan-India leader with critics saying that it was one thing to be the CM of a state and quite another to make a successful transition to the national stage. Probably, when history is in the making, everything falls perfectly in line and that is exactly what happened in Modi's case and his loyalists too.
The Congress-led UPA government headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had a nightmarish second term, the BJP cadres started clamoring for Modi to be the party’s prime ministerial face, national leaders of the saffron party and the RSS had no choice but to go with the man who knew his time had come.
We all know what happened after Modi was anointed as the party’s PM candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. He unleashed a campaign not seen before, energized the party workers, worked round-the-clock, making it difficult for the Opposition to catch up, captivated thousands who thronged to his rallies and made them believe that he was the harbinger of hope.
His hard work yielded unprecedented results and history was created on May 16, 2014 when the Bharatiya Janata Party bagged 282 seats, getting majority on its own for the first time in its history. Since then, Modi and his 'Man Friday' Amit Shah have got into the habit of creating history of sorts by marching ahead in states like Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir.
And, needless to say, they have plans to consolidate in more states in the years ahead and make BJP the formidable force that Congress was once. Delhi, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal are some of the states that are high on the party’s agenda. However, the year 2014 is over and done with and going into 2015, PM Modi has his plate full as far as delivering the promises that he has made to the people is concerned.
While the world may have hailed him as the right man to take India forward, Modi will have to concentrate on the important issues at home – reviving the economy, boosting the manufacturing sector, creating jobs, getting important bills like the Land Acquisition Act, the Insurance Bill, the Goods and Services tax, the Companies Act, among others passed and presenting a more imaginative budget in 2015 than the one presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in 2014 which was considered lackluster.
While several initiatives taken by the Modi government like Make in India, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and many more have earned praise from various quarters, the NDA regime needs to take all parties along in order to push important legislation in Parliament, especially the Rajya Sabha where the BJP does not have numbers.
Also, Modi will have to sit down do a serious talk with the RSS and the so-called fringe elements of the party which may be somewhat eroding the NDA government’s development agenda. While some groups and some leaders may now feel emboldened to speak out a little more loudly as far as their beliefs are concerned on issues like Hindutava and ghar wapasi or religious conversion and while the RSS may feel that it is time to carry forward the mantle of India being a Hindu nation, it does, in some ways, dilute the slogan that Modi emphasized upon during the course of the campaign for 2014 General Elections – India First and Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas.
The comments of BJP MPs' on issues like 'Love Jihad', minorities and Nathuram Godse will only give the Opposition the much-needed ammunition to corner the government. Modi is reported to have ticked off his MP's asking them to stick to the development agenda and not give stray comments. That is a welcome step from the PM for sure and that is what needs to be done. But perhaps he needs to assure the people too that his party will not deviate from the core issues confronting the country.
And on the foreign policy front, while Modi may have struck the right chord with the United States, Japan and Australia, Pakistan and China are still irritants to put it mildly. The fact is that the proverbial 'honeymoon' period for the BJP-led NDA government is over and now it is the time for concrete action.
There is no doubt that the year 2014 belonged to Narendra Modi and the BJP. But the more pertinent question is - Will the year 2015 also belong to him? It may and it can if PM Modi, his party and his government is able to walk the talk.
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