Modi 2.0 has started with a bang

Modi 2.0 regime has start rolling at a lightening speed. The new government has completed just three months post the stupendous win in the LS 2019, but the government has already started ticking off their manifesto promises/ ideological agendas in a real hurry. In fact, looking at the major decisions taken, it seems incredulous that the Modi 2.0 government has only completed three months (out of sixty) of it’s tenure.

Two engines of the Modi 2.0 government

The Modi 1.0 government had many efficient ministers but the burden of the government was mainly shouldered by Prime Minister Modi. Supporting roles were played by Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari, Piyush Goyal, Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh, Dharmendra Pradhan, Manohar Parrikar and some other ministers. However under Modi 2.0, the governance load is shared between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. In many of the decisions taken/ laws legislated, Modi took a backseat and allowed Amit Shah to lead from the front. The second tenure with 303 seats has meant that the opposition has lost their will to fight. Amit Shah has struck at the opportune moments and is ensuring that the government takes the maximum advantage of the scattered and weak opposition.

The rush to take quick action began with steps taken towards formation of Jal Shakti Mantralay, which would spearhead the efforts towards fulfilling the important 2019 poll promise of piped drinking water to all households (urban and rural) by 2024. The ministry is headed by Gajendra Shekhawat and has a big responsibility towards fulfilling this promise. Many states have drawn up their own plans for river linking (in conjunction with the center) and building sub region wide water grids, to ensure that the ultimate objective of “piped drinking water to all households by 2024” is fulfilled.

The Modi govt then played smartly to get the triple talaq bill passed through the Rajya Sabha, where the NDA is actually in a minority. In fact allies like JDU were opposed to this legislation, but the Modi government smartly got them to abstain instead of voting against the bill. Support was obtained from regional parties like the BJD and getting even opponents like NCP supremo Sharad Pawar to be absent in the Rajya Sabha during the vote. This is quite a significant departure from the first term of Modi, where the triple talaq bill was blocked by the opposition in the Rajya Sabha. Though this may not be a big vote catcher for the BJP, but this moves deals a strong blow to the control of the patriarchal Muslim clergy on 15-17% of the Indian population

In fact going ahead, Shah has attempted a coup by poaching RS MPs of other parties. Fresh by-elections and defection of RS MPs from parties like SP, Cong etc is allowing the NDA to march towards a majority in the RS, much ahead than expected. Getting a working majority in the Rajya Sabha could mean that the Modi government would be able to push through a lot of agenda.

As the opposition was still reeling under the shock of the passing of the triple talaq bill,came the biggie. The decision to make Article 370 ineffective, abrogate Article 35A and reorganising the state of J&K in two union territories came out as a bolt from the blue for the opposition and the seperatists. Such quick action was not expected by the opponents of Modi 2.0. The Union territory of Ladakh without an assembly was welcomed by the local populace, who were happy to be freed from the domination of the Kashmiris. The move was welcomed in Jammu as well as by a significant people in Kashmir as well. The speed and precision of the planning that preceded this historic event was mind blowing. Just as the US-Afghan Taliban peace talks were coming to a completion and Pakistan thought they would be in a strong position vis-a-vis Kashmir, Modi/Shah got the perfect opportunity. Prez Trump indirectly put up his proposal for mediating on Kashmir in his meeting with Imran Khan. Modi govt immediately swung into action and fulfilled their core agenda with the help of military, para military and local administration & local police.

Pakistan, opposition parties like the Congress and separatists are frustrated at not seeing widespread protests or stone pelting across the valley. This shows the effective way in which the Modi govt has collaborated with all civil and security agencies to ensure that troublemakers are isolated before the momentous decision. The world at large and Muslim countries in the gulf specifically show that the government is able to leverage the goodwill and trade ties built in the last five years. The Indian government ensured that its friends in the UN blocked the Chinese attempt to highlight the issue and bring it at the center stage. Pakistan will realize in the next few months that the J&K scenario has changed significantly for ever.

There is already anticipation on the Supreme court decision on the Ram Janmabhoomi- Babri masjid case, as daily hearing has been started by the SC bench headed by the CJI. In the likelihood of the court ruling this year, the construction of the Ram mandir could start before the first year completion of Modi 2.0. This would mean two big core promises of the BJP (and RSS) namely Removal of Article 370 and Construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya may be fulfilled. There is already gossip that the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) bill may be in the pipeline.

Modi had promised on the campaign trail of 2019 Lok Sabha election that he has put economic offenders on the doors of jail and would ensure that they are inside jail in the second term. This process seems to be gaining steam right now with big cat P Chidambaram arrested by the CBI/ED and courts giving custody five 5 days to the agencies. Prannoy Roy and his wife were not allowed to fly abroad, given their involvement in fraud case. The extradition processes of Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi are in progress at various stages. It seems that many of the big fish would soon be in jail. A strong message has been sent that an economic offender would be hunted down and brought to justice, no matter in which god forsaken part of the world they are hiding.

Now the major challenge currently before the government is the state of the economy. The world is in the throes of a major slowdown and possibly recession. Many sectors of the Indian economy like automobiles, real estate are facing lower demand n slowdown. Luckily for the Modi govt these challenges have come up in the first year of the new term, which gives them adequate time to fix the underlying problems. The Modi 2.0 government has started making conciliatory noises by removing  the surcharge on FPIs and taking decision to improve credit to businesses. Also the draft direct tax code has recently been submitted to the govt. Radical changes in the direct taxes and corporate taxes accompanied by reduction in exemptions, can help improve corporate sentiment. That is a big challenge for the Modi govt but going by the current track record of the last three months, the government should be able to tackle the issues at lightning speed.

The Modi government seems to have realised that expectations of the voters are very high from the second tenure and hence it cannot be business as normal. The Modi government has to up their game and deliver a lot more things in this tenure. In conclusion, the few things that we may see in the coming 1-2 years under Modi 2.0 are,

  • Reasonably settled J&K with industry rushing initially towards Jammu and the union territory of Ladakh
  • Construction of Ram Mandir post a favourable SC decision by the end of this year
  • Few big cats of the political and business world in jail for the economic crimes
  • Triple talaq practice losing steam as Muslim women now avail their legal rights to question this illegality
  • Start of improvement in the economy as the benefits of long term measures taken by Modi 1.0 government become visible
  • NDA getting a majority in the Rajya Sabha which paves the way for quick decision making
  • Aggressive moves on housing for all by 2022
  • Quick action on water supply to all households by 2022
  • Centre and state governments working in tandem to ensure that droughts become a thing of the past, as river linking projects and water grid projects kick off
  • Increasing adoption of Electric Vehicles and huge increase in renewable energy generation
  • Lesser caste based reservation agitations as the benefits of EWS reservations reach the people 
  • March towards the $5 trillion economy mark and beyond

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