Friday, March 8, 2013

Taciturn PM turns Tacitus as new data punches holes in Modi’s growth rubbish

With his “men of envy disparage everything, whether good or bad” remark, a usually taciturn PM has turned Tacitus, the ancient Roman historian and politician. The PM has started to attack now, but the results that his government has been generating have been speaking for a long long time. Unfortunately, the government’s PR machinery is so poor that all the good work has gone unnoticed. In the meanwhile, the BJP’s PM candidate, Narendra Modi has been busy spinning yarn about his growth credentials.

For those who complain about the growth during the UPA rule, a couple of figures should suffice:

  • The growth during the 9 years of UPA has been close to 8% or so, with the peak reaching somewhere close to 10%. The growth during the previous NDA rule was at least 3% lower. And here’s what must really hurt the NDA – the growth rate even in the period prior to the NDA was also higher by 1%. Growth dipped only during NDA rule.
  • Even last year (year ending march 2012), the growth was a high 9.2%.

But like the PM said, Jaitley and the rest of the BJP like to disparage everything. A more mature opposition would have conceded the economic growth fight, and relied instead on inflation which has been the government’s failing. But just like men possessed, top leaders of the BJP have chosen to criticize everything; with the result that they have not been able to convince the people about anything. It’s like a particular English news channel (that I often call “Scam TV” for it sees everything as a scam!) whose lead anchor shouts and screams so much everyday – and on every little issue – that when a big issue really comes up, he has nothing new to offer! For instance this anchor (and the rest of the media) cribbed so much about Chidambaram in general, that no one noticed how smartly he went and increased diesel prices to market levels for bulk customers. Chidambaram hoodwinked these so called journalists aware of their “cry wolf” habit.

The other data that must truly hurt the BJP is what emerged on Thursday from the CSO for the year ending March 2012 (as reported in  Mint). The “per capital income growth” data – GDP growth less population growth – increased in Gujarat by only 6.9%, way behind the harder-working but lesser-shouting states of Bihar (11.75%), MP (10.4%), Kerala (9.1%) and much bigger Maharashtra (8.7%). And oh yes….per capita income on an “absolute basis” (actual amounts) increased the highest in Goa, Maharashtra, Sikkim, Kerala and Haryana (4 out of 5 of these states were ruled by Congress during this data period). It must hurt Modi that even on growth, his biggest trump card, his state was placed at the 11th position. If growth were to be the only mantra, then surely Nitish Kumar and Shivraj Singh Chouhan are better NDA candidates for the PM’s job than Modi???!

Of course Modi had no time to react to this data. He was busy inducting the gun-toting ex-Congress MLA into his party’s fold. A few months back when the story about this MLA brandishing his gun at a toll booth had emerged, the senior leadership of the BJP had gone hammer and tongs at the Congress (like I said, the BJP attacks EVERYTHING!). Today of course, the party is busy welcoming the same man into their party. At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if they welcomed Raja Bhaiyya into their fold, should he be forced out of the SP!

The other data about Gujarat of course is the jobless growth that Modi has managed. Now I thought this was the charge the BJP made about the Congress! What suddenly happened? Where will the party run for cover now? What is the BJP’s numero uno PM candidate going to say now? Is he going to finally agree with Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyer’s theory that as India progressed, women – who were forced to work in days of destitution – have decided to stay home and concentrate on the household? That would explain both the facts – that jobs have not been added and that women employment has reduced. Will Modi now make Aiyer his best friend, well after his partymen had chided him for his theory?!

But even if he does so, how will he explain the 8 (or 16) lac unemployment amongst educated youth in his state? And the 16 number is apparently quoted by a Hemantkumar Shah, an academician “considered close to the Sangh parivar” as report in TOI today.

The BJP has mastered the art of criticizing the Congress for everything, even if the party has to later eat crow later, as more data emerges. It blamed the Congress for corruption “in the air and under the ground” when 2G and coal broke, only to find itself involved in both the issues (2G during Pramod Mahajan’s time and iron ore in Karnataka). It has repeatedly attacked the Congress President and “the family”, only to find that the only family allegedly involved in corruption is that of its own ex-President Nitin Gadkari! It attacked Sheila Dixit for the rapes in Delhi, only to realize that the real “rape capital” of India was Madhya Pradesh! It ridiculed the Congress for the “huge” subsidies in fuels, only to later demand that the cap of 6 subsidized LPG cylinders be revised upwards! It claimed that it was so smart as to decontrol diesel during its tenure, but it opposed the Congress when it increased prices by just a few rupees, blaming it for high prices when actually a fully decontrolled ! And likewise, it sided with Arvind Kejriwal and Anna in Parliament’s “sense of the house” resolution by agreeing to all their demands, only to turn their backs on the two when it actually came to enacting the law (they removed the Lok Ayukta provision from the Lokpal Act). So the BJP will somehow overcome this latest slur against Modi too. It’s an expert at putting its foot in its mouth, and then somehow taking it out, just in time to put it back in again!

The BJP is raucous about everything. Its battalion of spokespeople, all visible on the English news channels, comprises people chosen on the basis of their vocal strength (not intellectual prowess). I dread to think that the likes of Meenakshi Lekhi and Smriti Irani will now have their faces everyday on TV. Aaarrrggghhhh…..Can we have a little intelligence also please????

The real truth is that just a little bit of assertiveness from the PM has started the rot in the BJP to come out. Modi’s growth façade will crumble soon. Forget HDI indicators, which Modi obviously doesn’t care about. Even his GDP growth indicators will soon crumble. Watch out for the Sardar. He’s been provoked!

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