Narendra Modi’s entry into UP was marked by what he is most famous for – lies, more lies and even more lies! Speaking in Kanpur yesterday, he uttered a few more. I have chosen three here, but there are many many more strewn all around his speech!
Today’s TOI reports what Modi said: “The Congress was at the helm for 60 years but the lot of the poor had not improved in the country” and taking a jab at Rahul Gandhi, “Those born with a golden spoon in their mouths don’t know what poverty is. I have lived poverty and felt it. I know what being poor is and that’s why when they mock the poor it hurts. It rubs salt on the wounds”.
So I decided to check the poverty figures for Gujarat and contrast that with the rest of the country. As per the latest Planning Commission figures (http://planningcommission.nic.in/news/pre_pov2307.pdf), the poverty level now stands at 21.9% of the population at an All India level. The corresponding figure for Gujarat is 16.6%, hardly the kind of number one would expect if one went by Modi’s bluster. The states where the BJP has ruled almost continuously for the last decade or so are amongst the most poor: Chhatisgarh 40%, Bihar 33% and MP 32%. Clearly, poverty levels despite long periods of BJP rule are higher in some states. What impact has his or his alliance partners’ governments had on poverty? Amongst the least poor states are Kerala (7% - Congress/Left), HP (8% - Congress/BJP), Punjab (8% - Congress/BJP-SAD), Andhra (9% - Congress) and Delhi (10% - Congress). Clearly, Congress has done better than the BJP in reducing poverty.
Lets look at declines in poverty levels, since that’s a better measure of a government’s performance. Unfortunately, Gujarat ranks 15th in this list, with a decline of 27.7% between 2009-10 and 2011-12 (latest figures) compared to the All India level which is just slightly lower at 26.44% (http://tinyurl.com/lln3ah5). Is it because of this marginally better performance that Modi taunts the Congress? The highest declines have been in Andhra (56% - Congress), Punjab (48% - BJP-SAD), Haryana (44% - Congress) and Kerala (41% - Congress), again a list dominated by the Congress. Modi must eat crow now! Maybe that will reduce his personal poverty-of-truth!
Lets look at the annual rates of decline of poverty at an All-India level. Between 1993-94 and 2004-5, a period during which the NDA ruled for 6 years, the average annual decline was 0.7%. Between 2004-5 and 2010-11, when the UPA rules, the same figure is 2.2%. You decide!
The TOI reports “BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Saturday launched his crucial UP campaign with a promise to boost growth and employment”. Now I am not going to talk about Modi’s growth statistics because countless reports have shown that these are mostly fudged (earning him the #feku tag). Let me talk about Modi’s jobs growth claim.
Well, the BJP likes to taunt the Congress for the jobless growth recorded during UPA-1 (highest GDP growth, but low jobs growth). This is sadly true and different economists/journalists have given different explanations for this (rural female employment has dropped with higher prosperity, more females enrolled in educational programs till later etc etc). It’s a matter of concern no doubt. Going by Modi’s pompous statement, one would expect that the messiah would have prevented the same in his state and would have added millions of jobs. The truth: Growth in Gujarat has been jobless as well!
Journalist and Blogger Rajiv Shah writes this in his blog titled “Gujarat’s experiment with jobless growth” (http://tinyurl.com/k2hykw8): “Basing on National Sample Survey figures, the authors – Ruchika Rani and Kalaiyarasan A – say that the growth rate of employment in Gujarat during 1993-94 to 2004-05 was 2.43 per cent. However, this came down to nearly zero in the latter half of the decade (2004-05 to 2009-10). Further, they say, employment in key sectors, agriculture and manufacturing, witnessed negative growth rates at – 1.59 per cent and – 2.23 per cent per annum, respectively”. What??? Modi’s much touted industrial growth – the core of his development model – hasn’t yielded any jobs???!
Adding salt to the wound is this “Hemantkumar Shah, an academician considered close to the Sangh ideology, says Gujarat is a classic example of jobless growth. The annual rate of growth of employment in Gujarat was 2.4% during 1999-00 - 2004-05 (2.89% in India), and it fell to 1.3% during 2004-05 to 2009-10 (1.48% in India)” (http://tinyurl.com/mztojg4). Hmmm…..so Gujarat trails the All-India performance!
The Indian Express reports “Modi said that the situation of law and order in UP could be understood by the fact that more than 5000 have taken place in the state over the past one year”. Now unfortunately, this is true and UP does see the maximum number of murders in the country. Part of the problem is its huge population (20 crores). A better measure of the murder rate is the number of murders/lac of population. Even here, UP hangs its head in shame with a rate of 2.5 per lac. And Modi is right – Gujarat’s record is better at 1.9 per lac.
Now the way Modi uses numbers, it looks like the BJP is responsible for the lower murder rate in Gujarat and SP/BSP/Congress for the higher rate in UP. But if this were true, how does he explain the high rates in Bihar (3.1), Chhatisgarh (4.3), MP (3.5) and Punjab (3), all ruled by the BJP for the last decade or more? And if Modi were to share the dias with Jayalalitha, would he make the same point on murders in TN – which has a rate higher than UP’s (2.6)????!
When Modi is not blatantly lying, he is revealing only half the truth. Modi perhaps agrees with PCI Chairman, Justice Markandey Katju who once famously said “Ninety per cent of people in India are fools.” (http://tinyurl.com/kdo428t). Maybe he’s right. Most poor people – ferried by thousands of buses to create the impression of huge crowds at his rallies – may not realize these lies. But what about our media? Why does our media not call Modi’s bluff?
The real truth is that Modi resembles the character that Hollywood actor Jim Carrey plays in the movie “Liar Liar”. Everytime this character opens his mouth, a few lies fall out! Like Jim Carrey, Modi can be a good comedian, but to take his speeches seriously would be to behave like fools. One has to give credit to him for one thing though. He is consistent, even in his lies!