Even if BJP wins the Delhi there are some reminders/lessons to Narendra Modi and BJP leaders that they cannot afford to ignore.
Lesson 1: Local corruption:
While BJP under leadership of Narendra Modi is addressing macro issues of investments and economy, they cannot afford to ignore the issues such as the oppressive and extortionist local corruption that are daily faced by common man. In this wonderful article Rediff details interviews on how petty corruption disappeared overnight during 49 day AAP rule in New Delhi. Whether that would have continued if they ruled further is debatable, but it struck a chord with the common man. A similar sentiment was expressed to me by an executive working in an MNC in Mumbai who was strong supporter of Modi saying AAP will be good for the country because it will force BJP leadership to address local corruption. He said such was disdain to Mumbai police even among middle class, if there is a police person found dying on the street, they would leave him or her to die. Whether getting a license or ration card or even a death certification for a dead family member, Indians are subject to horrendous extortion and nothing was done, nay even talked about in BJP circles. I remember when Modi won, there was this euphoria that the days of this extortion and oppressive local corruption will be gone, but none of that is even talked about today by BJP.
Lesson 2: Connecting with common man
Narendra Bhai can take a leaf from the life of Mahatma Gandhi. If Modi wondered why does the feverish pitch for him during central elections is missing today, is it possible he is missing opportunity to associate with common man. Gandhi ji hardly spoke, but he was a powerful figure because he completely associated with common man, wearing simple loin cloth, eating most simple food, living humble life. Symbols matter and in a country where most people are poor it is important not to flaunt any displays. A poor man may not understand all the financial strategies but he quickly picks up the visual vibrations. True, the tragedy is most of the netas in India who plundered the nation to the hilt did so by wearing simple white khadi dress.
Even then, Modi should pay attention to wearing flaunting dresses. In spite of the hard work he is putting day and night, in spite of impeccable credibility, the common man associates with visual symbols and they do matter.
Lesson 3: The black money – managing expectations
After big words that they will get the black money BJP failed miserably in managing the expectations. The fact of the matter is in spite of talking about black money for more than three decades, Ram Jethmalani, who was himself once in power could do very little to get the money back. The secret banks exist for one thing only, protect the secrecy of their depositors and they are not going to bend over backwards to hand over the details to India. We are just living in fools’ paradise that black money will be back in no time. But then it begs a question, what is stopping BJP in declaring the black money national asset and come up with amnesty scheme to instill confidence in the common man? In one of the interviews Narendra bhai said while he would not go after anyone with vengeance he would not obstruct legal proceedings. If this is correct, why is Dr Swamy case against Sonia continues to drawn out? Many believe Jaitley is the biggest block. To be fair, Narendra Modi is thinking beyond and many of us may not realize his vision. If BJP goes after Gandhi family, with its entrenched 60 year rule and immense resources, they have potential to do enormous damage and immense harm to discredit Modi’s efforts for improving country. Modi may want to first focus on building the nation instead of getting distracted with those that can undermine his efforts. As he said why should India be satisfied with just 2 trillion why not target 20 trillion. This is in tune with how Modi handles things brilliantly where he does not spend energy fighting enemies, he simply makes them irrelevant. The problem is either Jaitley is being overzealous in protecting black money holders such as Gandhi family or BJP is doing a very poor job of managing expectations.
Lesson 4: The foreign economists obsession
There seems to be this obsession with foreign educated economists, some who even went against India and that is supposed to show that we do not get carried away with smaller issues and use the best talent. But is the best talent only available from western educated economists only? How about the economists from our own country. Here comes again the Jaitley view. While he is considered a brilliant person, his tendency to rely heavily on the West educated so called intellectuals shows India needs only western educated minds to solve it issues. Jaitley budget is considered no different that the budget of previous administration. There are many sane voices in the country with very constructive ideas whether it is water resource management, debt trap, food security etc., but does Jaitely have patience to get all inputs before finalizing the budget.
Lesson 5: The Jaitley factor
There is no doubt Modi and Jaitley are very close. The problem is people voted for Modi but not for Jaitley. Talk to many people in RSS, BJP, they feel that Jaitley has the biggest stamp in administration and is viewed by many as a western educated intellectual who have little touch with real life issues of India. He grew up with wheeling dealings of corrupt Delhi establishment and can serve very important role, but is the importance he is playing in Modi administration in the best interest of the nation? Issues like local corruption are not even on his radar.
Lastly, the purpose of the article is not to show support for AAP to capture power. They have potential to play a very pernicious role by playing into hands of dangerous western NGOs, the CIA, the missionaries who are hell bent to break the hold of nationalistic leadership that holds power in India today. But they are rabble rousers who can play an important role in a democracy and they are serving a call for course correction in BJP. It is a gentle reminder of India’s great democracy, ‘BJP, thy need to introspect’.