As Prime Minister Narendra Modi completes ten years in office, India reflects on transformative changes under his leadership. While international acclaim and popular support have been strong, a recent electoral setback in Karnataka raises questions.
by N. S. Venkataraman
The critics of India’s Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, may say various things about his administration, but the ground reality is that both Indians living across the country and observers abroad believe that India has experienced positive changes in multiple aspects during his nine-year tenure. Numerous international expert groups and even the United Nations have praised India for its robust economic growth, particularly as many other countries face recessionary trends.
Recent opinion surveys have consistently shown that Mr. Modi is the most popular and charismatic leader in India, surpassing any opposition political figures. Some global agencies have also recognized him as an important and popular world leader.
|Prime Minister Narendra Modi [Photo: PTI]|
However, the recent election results in Karnataka, where Mr. Modi’s party failed to retain power and lost to the opposition, have come as a surprise. There is now intense debate across India regarding the reasons behind this outcome. While critics argue that this election signifies the beginning of the end for Mr. Modi’s leadership, discerning observers dismiss this view. One credible perspective suggests that the BJP party, which held power in Karnataka, failed to provide the expected quality of governance, potentially leading to instances of corruption within the government machinery. This disappointment could be heightened by the fact that the ultimate leader of the BJP is Mr. Modi himself.
When Mr. Modi was elected as Prime Minister nine years ago, people recognized him as a strong and dedicated political leader with unwavering convictions and a high standard of personal integrity. Naturally, they expected him to launch and implement various development projects in the industrial, commercial, and social sectors, which he has done to the satisfaction of the people. Simultaneously, the public anticipated a comprehensive eradication of corruption at all levels throughout the country.
However, the reality is that the expectation of completely rooting out corruption has not been adequately met during Mr. Modi’s tenure as Prime Minister, particularly in some state governments. Nevertheless, people believe that as a national leader with a strong mandate, it remains Mr. Modi’s responsibility to eliminate corruption even at the state level.
With only around 12 months remaining before the next parliamentary election, Mr. Modi has limited time to fulfill the people’s expectations regarding the eradication of corruption. While development projects are progressing well, and a climate of growth has been established and is likely to be sustained, Mr. Modi’s primary focus for the next twelve months should be his determined crusade against corruption. Despite anticipated resistance and attribution of ulterior motives, he must persevere in identifying and punishing corrupt forces through all possible means. This will instill confidence in the people that corruption will be eradicated soon.
The success of Mr. Modi’s anti-corruption drive will serve as a crucial test during the upcoming parliamentary election.
Many Indians believe that the root cause of political corruption and subsequent administrative corruption in the country lies in the fact that almost all political parties, except the BJP and Communist/Marxist parties, are controlled by families with vested interests. People view such family control of political parties with disdain. Perhaps, the precondition for eliminating corruption is to eradicate family control and vested interests within political parties.
As part of Mr. Modi’s anti-corruption campaign, he should also launch a strong movement to denounce dynasty politics in India. Speaking forcefully about this issue would resonate well with the people and capture their imagination.
N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the “Nandini Voice for the Deprived,” a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause and to promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.