Thursday, September 26, 2013

Now Rajan debunks “Gujarat Shining”; shows Congress states are best off….

There have been so many stories already debunking Modi’s Gujarat Shining story. But there is a certain weightage that must be attached to the Raghuram Rajan report that was released to media yesterday. Why the report is special is  firstly, because of the author’s impeccable credentials and secondly, because of the variety of factors it considers to arrive at its conclusions. Rajan has classified Gujarat as a “less developed” state, bracketed with others like Andhra, Karnataka and West Bengal. For Modi, this must be yet another body-blow. For the BJP, a completely unacceptable shocker.

For the BJP has been pinning its 2014 electoral hopes on the Gujarat development model. We have been made to believe that Gujarat is more than Singapore and Hongkong combined, and Modi as the champion of Gujarat, the only one who got it glory, is the messiah sent to earth to save it from the “kalyug” that the Congress has got it into! Till the time Modi was confined to his state, no one really bothered to question him or his stats. But now that he’s become the PM nominee of his party, the spotlight is on him and his state. And the findings, like I mentioned earlier, are not too savoury for him.

In reality, Gujarat should be happy since it is going to be a beneficiary of the Rajan report. It will now get a higher allocation. A shrewd Gujarati would never mind this! He wouldn’t care two hoots about anything else! But Modi is in a jam. He has no option but to rubbish the report. He will likely refuse to take the extra handout from the center. If he does that, he will only be extending misery. He has always preferred to look a single economic measure – GSDP growth – and even here, his record is only as good as Maharashtra’s or Haryana’s or Tamil Nadu’s or Andhra’s (see my post yesterday). When it comes to any other measure of development, there is no place for it in the Gujarat model – be in social indicators like Life Expectancy at Birth (LEB), Mean Years of Schooling (MSY) or School Life Expectancy (SLE) – or the HDI index which puts Gujarat at a poor 10th place in the country.

The people will decide about Modi. But here’s more interesting data from the Rajan report. If one were to look at the least developed states – 10 in all – which include the big ones of Gujarat, MP, Chhatisgarh, UP, Bihar, Rajasthan, Odisha and Jharkhand – then one realizes the other dramatic fact. All of these states threw out the Congress many many years back, and yet, there has not been a change in their development status. Most of these have seen a long period of BJP rule. Makes me wonder how the BJP can accuse the Congress of not developing the country when they themselves have not been able to develop even a smaller area under their rule! Consider the following:

Least developed states: Chhatisgarh has had BJP for 10 years continuously, Gujarat for 15, Jharkhand for 8 out of 15 years, Bihar for 8 years (RJD before that) and Rajasthan for 10 of the last 20 years (rest Congress), and yet all of these states find themselves in the bracket of least developed states. Then there is Odisha which threw out the Congress 13 years back, Bihar which did the same 23 years back and UP which did it 24 years back. All of these states have experienced vast spells of non-Congress rule. Why have their new rulers not been able to make much impact? Is it time that these states gave the Congress another chance?

Relatively developed states: This list includes Haryana, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, TN and Goa. What is obviously visible here? That a bulk of these states have been under long spells of Congress rule. Haryana has had Congress for 13 out of the last 22 years, Maharashtra has always been ruled by the Congress (with NCP in part) except for 4 years between 1996-99, Kerala has had Congress governments for 14 out of 22 years, Uttarakhand has had a 50-50 share between Congress and BJP governments, Punjab has had Congress governments for 10 out of 21 years and Goa which has seen Congress for 15 out of 22 years.

The clear picture that emerges is that its not just Gujarat that is not shining adequately. States which have seen BJP rule for a majority of the time are doing poorly; and states which have seen Congress rule for a majority of the time are doing much better. Now I know that Congress critics will argue that the under-performing states threw out the Congress, and I grant them that. But this brings up two things. 1) What did the non-Congress governments deliver after the Congress was thrown out? And 2) Why do the developed states prefer the Congress? What is it about them that they don’t want the BJP to rule?

The real truth is that just like India Shining bombed for the BJP, so will Gujarat Shining. After all, how long can the truth remain hidden. PR works for a while, but beyond that, the truth asserts itself. The BJP knows this. It knows that the Congress’s economic growth record is much better. That is why the development (and governance) plank is only a minor plank in its political strategy. The main plank has always been, and remains even today, Hindutva. This is not the BJP fighting the polls. It is the RSS….

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