A joke called acche din


Perhaps, Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah did not say that it would take 25 years for acche din or good days to arrive, perhaps there was misreporting, but the fact that the supposedly wrong report sounded convincing speaks volumes about the party’s failure to redeem its pledges. Therefore, even as BJP leaders argue that Shah did not really mean what has appeared in the media, the impression sticks.

Interestingly, the clarificatory statements of BJP spokespersons are symptomatic of the malaise that afflicts the Narendra Modi regime. “Shah said the BJP government had curbed corruption and brought down inflation. It is working to end corruption and create many jobs in five years. But the dream of making India Vishwa guru (world leader) will take 25 years to realize,” BJP secretary and media cell in-charge Shrikant Sharma said.

Sharma said it all, in the process verbalizing a couple of defining features of the government—sophistry and grandiloquence. A Union minister’s close ties with a fugitive have been exposed; a state ruled by the BJP is rife with a bloody scam with allegations of top politicians flying all around; nobody related to the scams during Congress rule has been punished; inflation is yet to come down despite an agreeable international situation with crude and commodity prices down… and yet the party has the cheek to claim that it has “curbed corruption and brought down inflation.” In fact the cheek to make claim on prices on the day on which official data revealed eight-month high inflation!

And the BJP’s grandiloquence knows no limits. In its one year in office, the party has done little to change the state of affairs; it persists with incrementalism, ignoring the fact that the massive mandate it got last year was for a fundamental change in the paradigms of statecraft and economic and foreign policies. So, it is the same old scenario: journalists get murdered for exposing scams; officials are harassed for not slavishly following the political masters; edibles continue to be adulterated; police remain focused on the security of VIPs who grow more demanding and obnoxious by the day; administrative and economic reforms continues to be low on the agenda of those who matter; investors show little interest in India; Pakistan and China persist with their anti-India designs; and long is the litany of India’s woes.

And yet, BJP lectures about the country becoming a Vishwa guru, whatever it means. And, of course, nobody from the ruling party explains how the Vishwa guru status would help us: would it eradicate poverty, engender prosperity, bring vast investment, create jobs, improve law and order, reform Pakistan, restrain China? BJP leaders just keep babbling about the splendor of some remote past that they promise to restore at some distant point in the future—nothing for the present or even foreseeable future. So, Sharma said, “India used to be a world leader. And our president said it will take 25 years to restore India its ancient glory and status of world leader again.”

The BJP would like us to turn a blind eye to the almost complete failure of the Modi government in its first year, and leap-frog to a quarter of century from now when they will have created a paradise on earth, or at least in India. Such remarks would have made some sense, despite the flowery and claptrap, on May 16, 2014, when Modi had won the elections; after 14 months of the Modi regime’s tryst with continuity, the Vishwa guru hogwash sounds positively vexatious. It is adding insult to injury; it is like promising a starving man a seven-course meal—after 25 years.

People had voted Modi for economic growth, development, jobs, prosperity, and the Hindu agenda (building of Ram Temple at Ayodhya, implementation of uniform civil code, abrogation of Article 370); what they got was the same economic policies that hamper growth and development, along with long speeches, unending jamborees, and the remodeling of older schemes and campaigns. As for the Hindu agenda, no BJP leader of consequence (other than Subramanian Swamy, who is anyway not taken seriously by the powers that be) has spoken about the temple and the uniform code. As for Article 370, the less said the better: the BJP is in an alliance with a treason-friendly party in Jammu & Kashmir; today the saffron party stands for everything it has denounced for decades.

The Modi dispensation has reneged on most of its promises; now it is trying to divert our attention from its own failings. So, typically, the Sharma attributed the row arising over Shah’s alleged remarks to “conspiracy to defame BJP.” Even a diehard supporter of the ruling party will have to swallow this story along with a strong dose of credulity.