logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo
star Bookmark: Tag Tag Tag Tag Tag
India

Loos to LPG: Small steps to big win

Highlights

PM Narendra Modi (Reuters, file photo)
NEW DELHI: It is easy to attribute BJP’s victory to the Modi government’s bold decision to carry out air strikes on Jaish-e-Muhammed’s jihadi terror factory in Balakot deep inside Pakistan. The popular narrative is that BJP was headed for a defeat until IAF turned the polls around by retaliating against the massacre of CRPF troopers in Pulwama. But that’s too simplistic an assumption.
Balakot did indeed play a role by strengthening BJP’s ‘tough-on-national security’ plank and, in the process, adding lustre to PM Narendra Modi’s persona as a decisive leader who could be entrusted with the country’s defence. But a far bigger contribution came from a number of steps that provided vital underpinnings to Modi’s projection as a pro-poor person and helped BJP gain support among a constituency which had so far remained beyond its grasp. One of them was Ujjwala, which provided deposit-free LPG cylinders to families below poverty line and freed many homemakers from the drudgery of finding increasingly scarce firewood as well as the health hazard of cooking on chulhas.
According to experts, having an open fire in the kitchen is like burning 400 cigarettes an hour. Despite some complaints about refills being too expensive (households have to pay the full price, and the subsidy is later deposited in their bank accounts), Ujjwala is a case study of a government reaping huge electoral returns on a scheme that involved a rather modest political spend.
As a vehicle for amplifying Modi’s image as a pro-poor leader, ‘Chhotu’, the 5-kg cylinder which is affordable (priced at Rs 259.10 but with subsidy, it comes down to Rs 184.34) and can be carried easily proved to be a hit across vast swathes. There were several other schemes that helped fortify the message that Modi was the ‘kaamdar’ (doer) while Rahul was the ‘naamdar” (dynast): Construction of toilets, housing for poor, electrification and a dip in power bill because of the push for LED bulbs, launch of Ayushman Bharat and a sharp reduction in the cost of essential medicines. Welfare scheme money went into people’s accounts — something made possible because of Modi’s resolute push for Jan Dhan accounts — and timely implementation guaranteed higher-than-usual satisfaction.
All these proved to be crucial pieces of the scaffolding on which BJP built the aura of Modi as a compassionate leader. The effort was helped by income support for farmers, quota for upper castes and income tax waiver for those earning up to Rs 5 lakh. The focus on infrastructure and Modi’s carefully choreographed foreign visits were other important ingredients that sustained the narrative of a PM making an honest effort to turn the country into a global powerhouse. These schemes blunted the opposition’s allegations of betrayal and provided a foundation for BJP’s pitch that Modi may not have fulfilled all his 2014 promises but he had made an honest beginning and deserved another term to finish the job.
BJP chief Amit Shah has put the number of beneficiaries of Modi’s schemes at a staggering 27 crore, nearly 10 crore more than the total votes his party got five years ago. With a newly-raised army of 11 crore party workers, Shah ensured that the beneficiaries were reached before polling day. The field had already been set for Balakot to provide the finishing touch, and what a lethal strike it turned out to be.

Navbharat Times

Featured Today in Travel

All rights and copyright belongs to author:
Themes
ICO