Mission: 2019 Parliamentary elections
S KUNJABIHARI SINGH
2019 Parliamentary elections are just one year away. Can the BJP repeat its 2014 magic this time around or would it fade away in the like manner of the Vajpayee regime during 1999-04? The Modi-era beginning in 2014, stormed into power thanks primary to the appeal of Modi across the country. Appeal because, apart from other factors that put Congress at a disadvantage during UPA(II), like, effects of anti incumbency after their rule of continuous 10 years, the scams, the coal blocks, the Common Wealth Games and various other facets of mismanagement and corruption in the governance of the UPA (I) and UPA (II).
The crux in the success of the saffron party was considered to be the support of a totally unmarked around 12% of absolutely new voters those days. Election pundits worked out BJP’s share of national vote bank jumped to 31% in 2014 from 19% in 2009, a rise by 12%. This magic figure of 12% made all the difference between BJP’s aimless capitulation under LK Advani and triumphant resurgence under Modi. The most appropriate question could be if this 12% which works out to one voter for every eight, quite a number in any election process would still be with the Modi-Shah Group even this day or hopefully some of them frittered away. It’s a relevant issue considering the oft-claimed lackluster delivery, uninspired economic records of the BJP during 2014-18.
In a report of the World Human Development Index, 2017, India is ranked at the near-bottom, just above the fourth quarter, at 131 out of 188 countries. In the area of hunger and starvation, it is still worse, placing India at 100th rank out of 119 countries according to World Hunger Index, 2017. In the social sector India again does not fare well. The 2015 Global Healthcare Access and Quality Index, puts it at 154 in a ranking of 195 countries. In the sector of education, India ranked 81st on Global Talent Competitiveness Index.
After 70 years of independence and having completed 65 years of Planned Development through 13 Five Year Plans, we are nowhere within the first half of international rankings in most the basic parameters of development. Worst still, at a time when serious discussions are taking rounds in areas of employment, skill improvement, so much so, we have a separate Ministry of Skill Development in the centre; we rank a poor 72nd in a list of 74 countries according to Global Education International Student Assessment, 2009. Studies claim that roughly 75% of our graduates are not employable.
Another facet of the 2019 elections would be the near-100 million youths who would turn 18 by 2019 and thus would become adolescence, would be beaming with aspirations for asserting their rights for voting, albeit, choosing candidates of their choice. These new voters well exposed to the scenario transforming during the last four years, be they in their most anxious area of job creation or employment, economic and social indices that are churning out across the country, of the level of corruption that is eating into the society or otherwise of the NDA during the last four years.
This fresh youth force certainly are not looking forward to end up into a new ‘avatar’ of employment or could it be called job namely, ‘pakodawalla’, which breed of job got the appreciation of Modi aptly enamored by his confidant Amit Shah only a month or so back. If Modi rose as a ‘Chaiwalla’, that is OK, but the 100 million youths and those millions of unemployed between 18 and 35 wouldn’t be amused with selling ‘pakodas’ on the roadside. It was certainly not what the BJP in 2014 promised to the lower middle class voters; and much more what the 31% voters hoped to vote the saffron party to power at the centre.
A ‘Twitter survey’ conducted by Chetan Bhagat on the country’s job situation only a fortnight back, points to a revelation where a whopping 87% of those responding said that it was ‘difficult’ to ‘very difficult’, to get a job by an average graduate in India this day. For one, there were very few jobs available. For the other, there were too many job seekers, though both rise from and end to same situation. Of course, another dissentious attribute of the present day graduates is the ‘poor to very poor’ standard of learning.
To reinforce the findings of the survey, Chetan quotes, “Kanpur Municipal Corporation was flooded with 7 lakh applications for 3,275 Safai Karmachari vacancies; 5 lakh of them graduates and post graduates. Last month the Railways got 2 crore applications for less than one lakh lower level Group C and D posts.” This works out to roughly, for one single vacancy, 200 applicants vied. The scenario is indeed worrisome.
The fact remains that job growth during 2013-15 is pegged at a measly 1.7% despite the GDP growth of 7% during the period. (McKinsey Report). The political bosses however would end up accusing each others; the UPA (II) and the NDA each pointing accusing fingers at each other for the gloomy performance in the economy. Whichever government is responsible for aberrated policy, the job seekers are facing disillusionment which over a period of time would transcend into frustration and anger. And such a scene would be disastrous for the society.
The question that rises could be, ‘are these politicians or the so-called Law Makers really sincere, do they honestly care for the common man?’ Though these days elections are fought on issues, still caste considerations often play some role. The politicians therefore invent a methodology to attract voters particularly those belonging to lower middle class, the poor, the illiterate and the like. Chief freebies, like heavily subsidized rice as in Tamil Nadu, free bicycles to girl students, laptops to every college going students and the like take rounds in modern elections. The recent elections in Tripura or Meghalaya had plenty of such assurances like employment to every eligible persons, brick-walled house (or could it be huts), to every homeless family. How in effect can these promises be fulfilled at all? Two lakh unemployed in Meghalaya cannot certainly be employed even with hundreds or thousands taking solace in selling ‘chai and pakodas’ by the roadsides.
This election-time largesse in the announcements of jobs, infrastructures are largely for cajoling the voters and win elections. They may not have the honesty to deliver on the ground. In fact the shortages in public amenities may become a blessing in disguise for this class of tribes called ‘politicians’. They can conveniently subvert the rule of law in preference to rule of will, which in turn favor voters of choice irrespective of merit.