The BJP government elected in 2014 made waves as the first time since 1984 that a single party formed the government without support from other parties and with so little opposition. The Vajpayee government, formed at the turn of the millennium, with the strength of the NDA coalition, had set the pattern for the next decade and beyond. The government formed in 1999 under Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was the third one under his premiership, and the first one that lasted its full term in office.
The NDA or National Democratic Alliance set the tone for Indian politics in that era. This government had the job of maintaining the benefits of the new economy in India while also maintaining its ideological difference from its predecessor. Additionally, the Vajpayee regime was also managing the Kargil war- the conflict itself (though technically during the second Vajpayee government) and its outcomes. The Vajpayee government tried to portray their vision of a ‘Shining India’ as the cornerstone of their campaign when they called for the general elections six months early. Somehow, and many have claimed this was in the rural sector, the NDA fell short and in 2004 it was the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) that came to power, with the Congress at the helm, and was able to continue in power post the 2009 elections as well. The UPA-1 and UPA-2 regimes have been lauded for the high rate of economic growth— though the present government has made its point that this was ‘exaggerated’, through the back-series data it released, having changed the base year. The two UPA regimes also introduced several social development schemes, which have since been re-christened and continue even today. The UPA-2 regime was however fraught with controversy, with scam after scam coming to light.
Another let-down of the UPA-2 government was the high rate of inflation. At the time of the 2014 election, it was with the promise of reducing this, doing away with corruption and creating employment that the BJP came to power. The entire campaign of the BJP was based on the promise of Acche Din. In retrospect, as 2019 draws closer, one can see just how much of this the Modi government has delivered on. As of 2017, India’s ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index has gone up to the 100th position 1, and India stands 88th in the global Corruption Perception Index released by Transparency International. 2 The government’s measure of Demonetisation and its introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) have been both praised and criticized, and considered subjectively as both hits and misses. The success of these moves depends whom you ask, but it is safe to say that by 2018 the economy has recovered from whatever slumps it faced due to the introduction of demonetisation and GST. One area in which the Modi government has not yet been able to deliver is employment generation. With lakhs being added each year to the labour force, the shortage in creation of jobs is certainly a threat to the future of the economy.
Another looming storm cloud over the Modi-led BJP regime is the problem of the agricultural sector. Adding to this is the intensification of regional disparity, and growing right wing ideology received negatively by some sections of the population. These are the challenges facing the BJP in their campaign for the 2019 polls. The recent election results in the five states of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telengana, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram paint a worrying picture for the BJP, which has lost power in regions of the Hindi heartland. But the question raised by the Congress victory is whether this victory is because people wanted the Congress or because they simply didn’t want the BJP. This definitely shakes up the Centre’s confidence in their campaign for 2019— a campaign that was actually tactfully carried out throughout the tenure, since 2014— and leaves the question of 2019 open-ended.
Article contributed by: