These were the heady days for nation when Modi came to occupy the seat of power in Delhi after putting an end to the ten years of UPA rule. There was lot of excitement and expectation among people and everyone thought that something very good is going to happen.
It was May 26, 2014 and a Bollywood starlet tweeted “Just landed in Delhi” “And even air feels cleaner, #AccheDin”. The crowd which thronged Delhi to celebrate PM Modi’s swearing-in breathed that purified air through the Modi mask which had been elevated to a fashion statement during long election campaign.
In response to Modi’s triumphant speech, they enthusiastically responded to his call of “Achhe Din” with chants of “Aa gaye” in a symphonic chorus of sycophantic adoration. A nation saturated with meticulously constructed narrative of UPA non performance and policy paralysis had found faith in the mythological Gujarat model. On May 28, 2014, belligerent Modi had a tough talk with Nawaz Sharif , his Pakistani counterpart. On the same day Modi Cabinet in its first formal meeting constituted a Special Investigation Team to bring the black money stashed abroad.
The very next week on June 5, he gave a jolt to the bureaucracy, telling them their leisurely golf games are now thing of past and they should better pull up their socks. The decisions flowed thick and fast and the contrast with the earlier UPA Govt could not have been starker.
On June 11, the Govt asked Supreme Court to take a quicker decision on the issue of MPs with criminal background and on July 30, Govt introduced “lab to land policy” to increase the agricultural output and came out with the slogan of “more crop per drop”.
On August 7, the Govt announced increase of FDI in the key sectors of Railways and defence. A new irrigation scheme was announced on August 20 and Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana was announced on August 28 under which every citizen was supposed to get a bank account.
On September 17, which was also his birthday he sought his mother’s blessing under the glare of media cameras. Modi became savior of Indian Muslims on
September 20 when he spoke about the injustice done to them and on October 11 he asked every MP to adopt a village. On October 26, he conducted a series of meetings and defence projects worth 1, 20,000 crore were cleared.
It seemed as if Govt had its eyes and its mind everywhere. The focus area was fast identified with jet set speed and profusion. On June 24, Mr Modi focused on redressal of public grievances and improving the centre-state relations. Suddenly the needs of armed forces became a priority issue and emphasis to cut the red tapes in order to meet their long due requirements.
In his very first Independence Day speech on August 15, 2014 he talked about giving an access to a toilet for every Indian citizen and improving the lot of women in India. He talked about “Digital India” scheme to boost the education and healthcare sector on August 22 and on September 25, he launched his flagship scheme of “Make in India’ to boost the manufacturing sector in India.
He charmed the Americans at Madison square garden and even the audacity of wearing a suit with his name embroidered on it was forgiven when it was auctioned for a princely sum of 4.3 crores for the venerated cause of cleaning the Ganga and the nation cheerfully lapped up eulogies to his hotness quotient.
He hopped from one country to another in pursuit of India’s energy future and was hailed by media as an international rockstar. Australia was charmed and returned two precious antiques which had been stolen from India. Times magazine gave an impetus to his soaring image by declaring him as a person of the year.
The markets loved him and shops from Mumbai’s famed causeway to Delhi’s Sadar Bazar reaped windfalls from the sale of Modi merchandise. There were many stories floating in air like five reasons of why Modi is special and a 10 point plan by Modi to improve India in 100 days.
We also heard stories of Modi working tirelessly for 18 hours or more to bring the proverbial “Achhe Din”. The superman Modi had arrived with a magic wand in his hand and he was going to change the destiny of people.
On October 4, 2017 , precisely 1220 days after he became India’s 14th Prime Minister, a querulous Modi was reduced to fudging figures and lashing out at a handful of people for spreading pessimism.
The word on the street was too loud to be missed and it said “Modi is on back foot”. The dissenting voices are proliferating across sector as diverse as agriculture to industry to entertainment and beyond. Suddenly a large section of media rediscovered their voices and these voices are sharp, they are critical, they also excoriate. The opposition has upped its ante on social media which was once BJP’s monopoly and reduced party bigwigs to warning of a tool they once willingly appropriated to their ends.
Fact checking suddenly became the new buzzword and one time cheerleaders are turning apostate. The trusted allies like Shiv Sena have turned fractious and BJP’s own old brigade like Arun Shourie, Subramanian Swamy and Yashwant Sinha have voiced their astringent criticism openly in public and almost dared the party to take action against them, in full knowledge that the now beleaguered BJP cannot afford to have its own people talking in opposition’s voice.
Three years is relatively a very short time in politics, in fact too short a time for a messianic figure to thoroughly lose his sheen. On October 4, 2017,a speech to company secretaries virtually morphed into an attack on his critics and during the course of which Modi compared his critics to the pessimistic Shalya but altogether missed the moral of the story, “Always listen to your critics”
It was way back in October, 2015 when Arun Shourie had attacked party’s lack of original thinking when he pointed out the absence of viable road map in order to become a worthy successor of Congress. He was bang on as no less than 16 schemes of Modi Govt were only rip offs from the earlier UPA’s schemes and were repackaged and renamed projects.
As Modi enters in the final stretch of his first term as Prime Minister, he has been reduced to someone who renames and reframes these same repackaged schemes with a few coats of irony. So, the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana is now Saubhagya.Mission Indradhanush which was first launched on December 25, 2014,to immunize children against preventable diseases but on October 8,2017 it was relaunched as Intensified Mission Indradhanush.
In tandem with Sinha, Subramanian Swamy also raised waves in September this year which resulted in giving a huge fillip to the opposition’s cause. He severely lambasted the Finance minister Jaitley and said that the economy was in a tailspin and if not corrected, would lead to a major depression.
In June, 2017, almost a month before the dramatic midnight rollout of GST was to take place, Swamy warned that the country is least prepared for it and suggested that 2019 would be a better target date. He further said that if GST is implemented as planned on July 1, “It could become our Waterloo”. Many frontline analysts and economists who echoed his views were conveniently brushed aside as cynics.
Now in a short span of 40 months the charismatic, confident and the capable knight in the shining armour of May 26,2014 has been reduced to a petulant, fact challenged, constantly sulking Don Quixote tilting at the windmills in his own mind. The much in demand statesman has made himself to be a sulky, embattled politician, who is perennially in a campaign mode and needlessly
litigating an electoral battle he won convincingly three and a half years ago. Modi has suddenly turned into a panicky man who sees conspirators virtually everywhere.
There was once a messiah whose rise to the pinnacle of power in the largest democracy was greeted by adoring crowd in Modi masks in hope of their proverbial “Achhe Din”. Now all that is left of that euphoria and the national outpouring of hope is the dusty fibre masks, most certainly made in China.