File photo. Photograph:( AFP )
Prime Minister Narendra Modi loves challenges and there are many that he has to confront in his second tenure
The people of India have given a bigger mandate to Narendra Modi and the BJP in 2019. The stupendous, record-breaking mandate comes with multiple challenges, which he has to juggle through. The challenges he faces could be classified broadly into political, economic and social.
Modi needs to manage the aspirations of allies and keep them in good humour, especially Shiv Sena and JD(U), balancing it with good governance. Though the BJP has got a majority on its own, it needs to share power, given the fact that polls are due in Maharashtra this year and Bihar next year.
Retaining both the states is important for the party’s game plan of securing a two-thirds majority in both houses of Parliament. The party does not enjoy a majority in the Rajya Sabha.
Polls are also due within a year in Haryana and Jharkhand, where the chief ministers are facing natural anti-incumbency.
Jammu and Kashmir, where the BJP was in power before President’s rule was imposed and Delhi, where Arvind Kejriwal dealt a big blow to the party in 2015, also go to polls next year.
The challenge for Modi will be to maintain the Lok Sabha election momentum in the state polls and come back to power with a thumping majority.
Modi needs to build relations with regional parties, which share an anti-Congress stand, like BJD and YSR. This will give him the much-needed leeway to pass big structural and constitutional reforms.
There could be pressure from right-wing groups to pass an ordinance on Ram Temple, abolish Article 370 and 35A and establish a Uniform Civil Code. There could also be pressure from the party organisation in Karnataka and MP to topple state governments and install BJP chief ministers there. He needs to tread with caution.
Dealing with loose cannons like Sakshi Maharaj, Pragya Thakur and some others, who have a penchant for making controversial statements, will be tough for Modi. Taking stern action against these Hindu poster boys and girls is not easy, because it takes the focus away from development.
The economy is slowing down, clocking 6.6 per cent growth in Q3 FY 2018-19. The global environment is not as conducive as in his first term. Oil prices are expected to rise amid Iran sanctions, putting further pressure on the rupee.
Modi 2.0 doesn’t have the luxury of lower oil prices like Modi 1.0. This is also likely to put pressure on inflation. To put growth to 8 per cent levels is a big challenge for Modi given that private investment has been lacklustre.
A stable and powerful government could gain the confidence of industry, kick-starting the capex cycle with the uncertainty over election results vaporising.
Unemployment was the topmost issue in the elections. Before polls, there were heated exchanges between BJP and opposition spokespersons on the number of jobs created during Modi 1.0 with both citing numerous data sources to drive home their point.
The truth of the matter is that 10-12 million people are added to the workforce each year and we need to find them gainful employment. Taking a leaf out of Congress manifesto, BJP should first try and fill the 20-lakh plus government positions vacant.
The manufacturing sector needs a big boost and IIP was negative in February 2019. SMEs, which account for 45 per cent of India’s total output and employ 40 per cent of the workforce, are facing a liquidity crisis.
Though ease of business rankings has improved, there is scope, especially for startups. The Make in India initiative needs a rejig as it could be the Indian answer to unemployment.
Modi has promised to double farmers’ income by 2022. This is a herculean task as merely increasing the MSP won’t help. The government would need to increase its procurement from farmers at MSP. Doubling income by offering higher remunerative prices also has implications on inflation, which BJP has claimed of getting under control.
In his Parliament hall speech, when he addressed NDA allies, Modi said, “Our mantra should be "Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas and Sabka Vishwas." He further added, ‘“We have to break through this deception. We have to win their trust. It is a big responsibility that we have to fulfil. Those who vote us are ours and even our most trenchant opponents are ours. We cannot believe in any discrimination.”
Without going into who’s responsible for the deep lines of division between the Hindus and minorities in the country, Modi will face an uphill task to win their trust and confidence.
All over India, it was a general phenomenon that minorities voted for candidates best placed to defeat the BJP, resulting in a severe trust deficit.
Given this backdrop, it would not be easy for Modi, as he has to tread with caution, lest he will be seen as indulging in minority appeasement. And to this, the right-wing groups would increase pressure on him to declare India a Hindu Rashtra by 2022.
Modi has promised ‘a new journey to build a new India with new energy’. While he faces significant headwinds, he loves challenges, as they bring out the best in him. With this bigger mandate comes bigger responsibilities.
(This article was originally published on The DNA. Read the original article)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL.)