When BJP president Amit Shah recently said that selling pakodas was a means of employment, he made the job of the opposition much easier. He was essentially defending a statement on pakodas, made by his boss, Narendra Modi.
This one statement, though it did not receive the derision it deserved in the media, was nothing short of an admission that the government had failed in its most immediate and primary goal- to address the core issue of unemployment.
Likening an “honourable self-employment” like pakoda-selling to efforts of creating organised jobs not only underlines the BJP’s arrogant denial of the established ILO definition of what constitutes a job, but also reveals its desperation to confuse the public and escape scrutiny.
It tried that trick last month also, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a series of self-congratulatory tweets, announced that every village in India now had access to electricity. Pliant TV news channels jumped on the fodder and worked in liaison with BJP spokespersons to revive the now-dwindling “Brand Modi”.
Modi, creation of PR stunt driven by misinformation
Except, that facts spoke otherwise- 32 million homes are still reeling under darkness. The Modi government deems a village electrified even if a mere 10% of its households, including public places, have access to electricity. PM Modi’s tweets were nothing but part of an unprecedented misinformation campaign aimed at capturing rural votes.
The truth is that all his flagship programmes have ended in smoke. The government has failed miserably in creating jobs and is now hiding behind dubious arguments. The Centre cites seven million new employees’ PF accounts to dish out the vague idea that it represents an equal number of new work-force. It need not. Most economists have already pointed out it could instead reflect that either already existing jobs were moved from the unorganised sector to the organised sector or, employees who had been denied PF facility hitherto, have received it.
Let’s talk about Modi’s ambitious Swachh Bharat programme, a steal from an existing UPA initiative. The government credits itself of creating lakhs of new toilets. But there is no investigation done to ascertain that whether these are just concrete structures or do they also have a sewage system attached to them. If not, can anyone use them? The government, so far, has not released any evaluations in this regard.
Very cleverly, PM Modi spent millions of rupees in ads to play up his intent to clean the holy river Ganga. The purpose was to keep the Hindutva voters emotionally provoked. But four years down the line, the Ganga is just as dirty. The question here arises, why the advertisements then? Why waste public money in displaying through big hoardings your commitment to a river that Hindus consider sacred? Was it to secure goodwill Hindu votes? If not, why is Ganga still unclean?
The Prime Minister attracted public lauding by his repeated thrust on “Make in India”. But quiz him with data, and one would get to know there is none to show that the share of manufacturing in the country’s GDP has inched one bit.
He pushed his way in 2014 attacking the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh of debilitated foreign policy. While one does not need to really go into the defensive about Dr Singh’s immense stature as a statesman, the respect he commanded from big world powers and his concrete achievements on the foreign policy index were visible to all. In contrast, what is that one achievement that Modi can cite before flaunting his strength or, rather, STREANH, as a strong leader? Even smaller countries like Nepal which virtually consulted India on the most trivial of issues have now moved closer to China under Modi’s nose. His uninvited trespassing into Islamabad to celebrate Nawaz Sharif’s birthday brought the ignominy of a Pathankot attack. Soldiers continue to die at the border.
Smart City outsmarted by poor governance
The utter failure of the smart city mission can be gauged from the fact that in the PM’s own constituency Varanasi, which he claims to be developing at par with Kyoto, a bridge collapsed like a pack of cards. The city remains littered with waste and overflowing waters from uncovered drains.
Petrol and diesel prices are at a record high, coal shortage is back, inflation is rising without demand growth, interest rates are rising but there is no push for investment, rupee is sinking without a stop, and farmers’ suicides continue unabated.
And all this was bound to happen. What good can you expect under a dispensation that works untiringly to finish off the Opposition and purchases MLAs to reverse people’s verdict in an election?
Never before have we seen a prime minister who could so successfully upset every strata of the society, be it unemployed youth, debt-ridden farmers, an increasingly burdened middle class or the threatened Dalits and Muslims.
The only ones enjoying a broad smile are those who looted the country to fill their coffers and then ran away, like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi. Also smiling are those who are still here to augment their businesses tens of hundreds of times, almost by magic, like Jay Shah.
(Salman Nizami is a former journalist and a Congress office-bearer)