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The Modi effect – states starting to push their development index … but superficial ?




The UPA Government came in with a lot of promise, and with an element of surprise, since not everybody expected the BJP to lose to the Congress in the 2004 elections. Yet, the Congress got a higher number of seats, and with the support of the Left, formed a Government. In between they dumped the Left and also won the 2009 elections with a higher number of seats. Yet, their second term was deeply struck by many scandals that emerged because of their actions during the first UPA Government, such as the 2G scandal, the scandal over coal allocations, and so on. As a result, the Government soon earned a reputation as one that has gone into policy and reform paralysis (which the Congress blamed on fear caused by a rampaging CAG), and which has translated into an economic downturn. Deficits have not fallen as per plan, industrial production is badly down, car sales are down, and so on and the Government has been under the threat of rating agencies that are threatening to downgrade the investment rating of the country.
Now, when you think of all this, which politician do you think of who has a inverse reputation, who has built a reputation for reform, for growth and for very low levels of corruption ? A number of state Chief Ministers would want such a reputation (although you have to laugh when the Hooda Government in Haryana makes a claim), but for most people, this is Narendra Modi. In the light of an aggressive campaign over the past few years to shed the reputation of a fanatic and develop a different reputation, that of the middle class hero, Narendra Modi stands tall over every other politician in the country. In addition to whatever growth he has been pushing (and there are now more and more statistics coming out trying to puncture that claim), he has made an incredible effort to gain a reputation for being somebody who can provide economic growth.
Even in the past, there have been some states where they have tried to win using a platform of bijli-paani-sadak (electricity, water, and roads), all very important in driving growth in the rural area of the state. For somebody like Nitish Kumar, attempts to show growth are very easy when you had the destroyer twins of Laloo Prasad Yadav and Rabri Devi leading the state before you, although it is claimed that he is making an effort. In order to prevent his seemingly arch rival Narendra Modi from claiming the throne of the development champion, the Bihar Chief Minister has been touting his own development model which has the magical words of inclusive (catering to the poorer and minority sections) rather than Modi’s model (Modi shies away from the words inclusive; he claims that he does not look at any caste or class or religious differences, development improving the lot of all, and hence does not want to go down the route of trying to do specific development models for different sections of society).
Seeing that the mis-governance of the past few years have made the middle class yearn for somebody who can get things done, and who is not really corrupt. Rather than let Modi become the automatic claimant of such a title, more and more state leaders are attempting to gain credit for development happening in their states. Even within the BJP, Shivraj Chouhan from MP and Raman Singh from Chattisgarh are also touting their own steady growth records, and the same is also being attempted to be claimed by other chief ministers. Nitish was already mentioned, even the much-criticized Akhilesh has claimed progress in the past 1 year and promised much more. Punjab already likes to claim growth, but when somebody like Hooda from Haryana claims that his state has a better record than Modi, you know that this issue of who is the development champion is becoming much more critical.
What would be ideal would be if more states start touting their development models and talk more about their progress; this will help shift the focus to development rather than caste and religion based interests. It will also get more people involved in measuring how good their state is doing and what can be done to help. If not, it will be meaningless chatter.




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