Reformist agenda or path of welfare in 2024?


As the Narendra Modi government celebrates its ninth anniversary, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is well aware that 10 months from now it will face a united opposition that will try to convince voters that the prime minister is ‘acche din’. They have gone back on their promise to give.

The challenges before Modi and his party are the same as in 2019 when he won the Lok Sabha elections within five months of electoral failure in three major Hindi heartland states.

A senior BJP leader said in an interview, “The electoral disaster of 2004 ‘India Shining’ has taught the current BJP leadership to be ideologically agile, which is also evident from the February 2019 vote-on-account and the situation now.”

After losing the Himachal Pradesh assembly elections in December 2022, the Center in April constituted a committee to study whether any changes were necessary in the new pension scheme. One of the central issues of the Congress during the elections was the restoration of the ‘old pension scheme’.

In less than two months, in February 2019, Union Minister Piyush Goyal appeared in the Lok Sabha to present the Interim Budget, after the BJP was defeated in the Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan assembly elections due to the agrarian crisis. Extended the rule that an elected government should present only five full budgets.

He announced several major decisions including the PM Kisan Nidhi Yojana, an annual allowance of Rs 6,000 for small farmers and some relief in income tax for the middle class.

Handing over the post of Congress President to Rahul Gandhi in early 2018, Sonia Gandhi had said, ‘I am sure that the ‘Acche Din’ of the BJP will actually turn into Shining India, which won us (in the 2004 elections). ‘

Modi became the first prime minister since 1971 to return to power with an absolute majority on the back of Modi’s charisma, the government’s outreach to farmers and the middle class through an interim budget, and the nationalist fervor following the Pulwama-Balakot episode.

The BJP has demonstrated political might during its nine years in power at the Centre. Modi withdrew the Land Bill in 2015 following criticism that it was a ‘suit boot government’ and had adopted ‘poor welfare’ as the core mantra of his government.

By May 2016, he launched the Ujjwala scheme in Uttar Pradesh, where elections were due a year later, and built toilets alongside it. When Rahul Gandhi promised farm loan waiver to farmers in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP also took the initiative to fulfill it within weeks of Yogi Adityanath taking oath.

Demonetisation took place on 8 November 2016, just three months before the first phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh. People believed that this harmed the rich, leading to the perception that Modi had fulfilled his commitment to eliminate corruption.

The Modi government itself rolled out some of the schemes inherited from the UPA, such as the Jan-Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar-based direct benefit transfer and the housing scheme, as well as the Goods and Services Tax during the December 2017 Gujarat assembly elections after complaints from traders. (GST) rules were also amended.

The BJP achieved its core agenda of abrogation of Article 370 and construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya within months of its 2019 victory. Apart from this, the party resorted to social engineering and created a ‘beneficiary class’ to help it recover from setbacks such as protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and farm laws, and because of this, re-election in Uttar Pradesh in March 2022 Helped to win.

The inauguration of the new Parliament House, Gaganyaan, India’s hosting of the G-20 summit in September and the inauguration of the Ram Mandir in January will add to Prime Minister Modi’s charisma. However, despite the popularity of the Prime Minister in the Karnataka assembly elections, the BJP looked tired. In North India, those who voted for the BJP, the marginalized and the poor moved to the Congress, as did women in Karnataka.

The party’s defeat in Karnataka amid the debate over electoral ‘revadis’ or freebies shows that the BJP is trying to come up with new ideas that can help Modi match Jawaharlal Nehru’s record and the reason This would allow his party to win three consecutive general elections.

The BJP’s challenge is to once again defeat the Congress, which now appears to be resurgent and has adopted its strong message of ‘guarantees’ and has been joined by several regional parties, especially those in Bihar, Maharashtra and West Bengal. Has also taken the initiative to bring together
The debate is now whether the BJP will return to the reformist agenda of development and economic growth that it promised in 2014, or retain its model of welfarism.

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