The newly elected Member of Parliament Sunil Jhakar characterized his Gurdaspur constituency win with the following statement. “I had said it from the very first day that this election will be a mandate on the policies of union government led by Modi. People have vented their anger against demonetization and GST by making me an MP with a huge margin of votes. I had asked people to vote for me and against BJP’s economic and communal agenda. People have responded to my call, and it has sent a clear message to union government on behalf of the whole country that people are fed up with its policies, and it is time for change,”
Gurdaspur election victory may be a turning point in history for the Congress Party which has been reeling from its inability to expose the failures of the Modi Government efficiently and to change the mindset of the electorate that is still clinging on to the promise of Modi’s ‘Ache Din.’ The Modi PR machine which has helped to catapult BJP to power in Delhi by riding on the bandwagon of a fraudulent ‘Gujarat Model of development’ platform still hasn’t lost its full steam. Nevertheless, Gurdaspur election victory by a recorded margin by the Congress party is pointing probably to the severe first crack of the theory that Modi will be unbeatable in the upcoming Parliamentary election, in 2019.
Most of the reputed Economists including some of the senior stalwarts of the BJP such as the former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha and the former minister of communications Arun Shourie expressed grave concern that the economy is fast slipping into deep recession, with no hope of recovery in the foreseeable future. It is believed that all fundamental parameters are declining along with GDP that has fallen for six quarters in a row. The demonetization alone may have shaved off 2 points from GDP growth just as Dr. Manmohan Singh, the former Prime Minister has predicted. Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine characterized the demonetization process as the “massive theft of people’s property – a shocking move for a democratically elected government”. The negative consequences from the demonetization are still being felt across the spectrum jeopardizing the livelihood of poor farmers and ordinary citizens alike.
Another one of Modi’s grand promises was to create millions of job for the youth. He not only has failed to create those promised jobs but has presided over an economy that started shedding jobs especially in the technology sector. Various protectionist measures across the world including that of President Trump’s new ‘Buy American, Hire American’ executive order followed by several countries including Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore introducing their own legislation aimed at curbing the inflow of foreign labor where Indian Engineers make a sizable chunk of those immigrants to those countries. This new global dynamics rooted in the nationalistic sentiment has further precipitated these jobless growth phenomena in India while automation and new technologies using artificial intelligence (AI) continued to reduce job opportunities across the board. The Modi government is behaving as if it has no clue as to how to confront this crisis to placate the youth who put their faith in the BJP government to improve their destiny.
The sharp fall in the international crude oil prices has been a boon for the Modi government as it has refused to pass on the benefit to the consumer. To a great extent, the government is profiteering at people’s cost while driving up inflation and putting additional pressure on small businesses,
Finally, the messy implementation of the GST appears to have done grave damage to the economy, especially on the small entrepreneurs and traders. Many of these businesses are shutting down resulting in more job losses.
According to Anand Sharma, the deputy leader of the Congress parliamentary party and former minister of Commerce and Industry, “Prime Minister Modi and the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley remain in denial and clueless on addressing the crisis of their own making. They are guilty of monumental mismanagement of Indian economy”.
Therefore, Gurdaspur election victory is not a shocking development to those astute political observers but rather a window of opportunity for the Congress party to seize the initiative and capitalize on Modi’s failures to rescue the people of India from the disastrous economic policies pursued by this administration.
(Writer is a former Chief Technology Officer of the United Nations and Chairman of the Indian National Overseas Congress, USA)