Sound of shallow clapping
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has issued a new timeline for normalcy to return. He wants his MPs to go to their constituencies and spread the word about the draws and prizes announced by the government for those who will make digital payments. He even asked his colleagues to organise functions to felicitate the winners of these prizes.
It is amusing that the Prime Minister of India thinks that giving an opportunity to 15,000 people to win Rs1000 every day for 100 days is something that should be celebrated after hundreds of poor citizens have lost their lives standing in the queues to withdraw their own money from the banks. The total amount of these prizes will be Rs.150 crores in a country where crores of citizens are facing unprecedented problems for past 40 days and still do not know for how many more months it will take to normalise.
The wisdom shown by Modi from time to time is something that deserves a place in history as no Prime Minister has thrown such new ideas on an almost daily basis. Prime Minister was belly-laughing while quoting Chanakya from the 15th chapter of his Neeti Shastra and told BJP MPs that the wealth accumulated through desecrated means vanishes after eleventh year hinting at the Congress-led UPA rule for ten years before Modi took over. Not taking the already emerging ill effects of demonetising such as economic slowdown and unemployment seriously and indulging in mere sloganeering is something a Prime Minister must avoid even when he is addressing a meeting of his party members.
Modi now also wants to make the nation believe that the time is not very far away when small businesspeople will be able to get the loan sanctioned within 6 minutes from a bank depending on their turnover, provided they have electronic records of their business transactions. It was unbelievable to listen to our Prime Minister when he told his party MPs that he began with demonetising as it will change the way of life for more than one billion Indians and asked them to convince the electorate in their areas that BJP is the only political party for which country comes first and anything else later.
One more thing in Modi’s speech to his party MPs needs due attention. He compared the Indo-Pak war as a result of which the map of Indian continent changed when Bangladesh was born with the recent surgical strikes along with the Line of Control between India and Pakistan. The prime minister lamented that the opposition in 1971 never asked for any proof of Bangladesh war, but the values in politics have reached to such abysm these days that evidence of recent army actions is being demanded. To me every act of Indian armed forces is valuable and must be respected, but I am sure even the army will hesitate in comparing the event of 1971 with 2016 and if there are any questions raised, they are a reflection on the credibility of the government of the day, not on the capabilities or sacrifices of the armed forces.
The response to Modi’s speech at the recent party meet on Friday lacked enthusiasm. Both BJP President Amit Shah and Home Minister Rajnath Singh looked tense. Even the Prime Minister's body language suggested the same. Veteran leader Lal Krishna Advani was clearly disappointed too. There were only four occasions when a handful of MPs opened their tightly folded hands for shallow claps—first when Modi mentioned Chanakya; second when he threw the 6-minutes loan sanction dream in the field; third when he said that whatever he does, he always does with proper planning; and fourth when he assured his colleagues that tax bureaucracy and caretakers of labor laws would not be allowed to harass anyone for pre-November 8 period. Otherwise, for the entire time, the environment was similar to a homage meeting for a departed soul where the chief priest makes some efforts to convince the gathering that, show, in any case, must go on and reminds everyone of their duties to buck up the morale of one another.
I am now waiting for the speech our Prime Minister will deliver after the 50 days period of mourning for ordinary people of India is over. I am sure he will attribute "the great success of demonetisation" to the "cooperation and the sacrifices" of citizens of this great nation. He will not forget to mention that how fortunate he is that his good karma gave him the birth in India to serve the poor and needy.
Modi will also say with the required emotional touch that his countrymen have endured great personal suffering to do their bit in this grand fight against corruption. He also knows that he has to warm the electorate by saying that the coffers of the banks are overflowing with money, all confiscated black money is being investigated and no one, however, big he or she is, would be spared. Prime Minister is aware of the large scale loss of jobs as a result of demonetisation; therefore he will tell the masses that cashless economy is going to generate more employment in the long run than will be lost now.
Modi will then ask the people ‘to endorse his policy when they get an opportunity in coming days’ with an indirect hint to vote for BJP in Uttar Pradesh (UP) Assembly Election. So, the script is ready. How much sense it will make to the sufferers of Modi’s ill-prepared adventure is yet to be seen.
(The author is Editor and CEO of News Views India. Views expressed are strictly personal.)