In a democracy such as India that comprises diverse cultures, multitudes of ideologies and more than 2,000 political parties (including 7 recognised national, 59 recognised State), it is virtually impossible to have stakeholders from every school of thought on the same page. So, in order to bring about a change in lives of people, political parties need to contest elections and leaders have to be elected to power by the electorate. Because the electorate expects their governments to identify the missing links in governance and suitably provide for their redressal. Unfortunately, when in power, political parties abdicate their mandate about ‘bringing a change’. As a result, the electorate does not experience any change which gives rise to anti-incumbency, and eventually a change of guard.
Power had changed hands at the Centre for decades, but the change was largely from one family member to another while not much had changed for the people. Especially in the decade of 2004-14, Indians had accepted the reality that they would have to overcome challenges even related to basic utilities by themselves, without any government help.
The concept of ‘pro-incumbency’ was alien.
Last time Indian citizens experienced change was when Late Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee focused on affordable communication, connectivity through the Gramin Sadak Yojana, and assimilating North East India, which had otherwise infamously suffered under the cover of ‘tyranny of distance’. 10 years of UPA were marked by lethargy, reluctance to deliver, corruption and misgovernance.
However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi led NDA Government has been able to reverse the inertia breaking fresh ground for the citizens of India. Post-2014, the common people saw a discernible shift in their day-to-day lives, which was a refreshing break from the monotony and the disillusion that had settled in.
In tangible terms, the following have been some of the key steps that the Modi government had taken:
- 7.2 crore LPG connections have been distributed under Ujjwala Yojana across 714 districts. With every additional smoke-free kitchen in the village, there was a better and healthy life on the horizons. This improvement in health and economy of time had helped improve quality of lives of millions of people.
- Each time a village was declared Open Defecation Free, it not only meant that each house was now equipped with a toilet, it also meant that young girls, women, and the disabled population of the village could finish their daily ablutions with dignity and safety.
- Over 1.5 crore houses have been built under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. It is a life-changing moment for homeless families that had dreaded rain and storms, or were at the mercy of their landlords when they couldn’t pay rent on time.
- We have all heard of unfortunate incidents when a girl couldn’t finish her education because a medical emergency hit the family. As beneficiary count of Ayushman Bharat hits 18.4 lakh, it will be reasonable to say that significant number of families have been able to save their near and dear ones without slipping into poverty.
- Most businesses in India did not have access to timely credit on account of multiple reasons including lack of collateral, inadequate credit history or, simply having no access to banking services. It was the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana which gave access to banking services, which in turn helped the account holders use banking products, save money and even avail of zero-collateral MUDRA loans for starting small businesses, or meeting funding requirements for established businesses. This is a huge shift from the system of loan sharks to an institutionalised and transparent credit system.
Similarly, initiatives such as Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi and Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Mandhan Yojana focus on actual delivery that can be implemented and experienced.
So, PM Narendra Modi’s tenure can be described as that period when common citizens, honest tax payers, the oppressed, and the poor and the destitute, irrespective of their social, cultural, ideological or economic identity, were able to witness real governance on the ground. As a result, even those who didn’t vote for Narendra Modi-led NDA in 2014, have realised a positive shift in their lives, which may well influence their electoral behaviour in 2019.