Elections 2019: Why Modi should win a second term in office

No! There is going to be no reference to the statement made by the leader of our nasty neighbor about how bilateral relations might improve if Prime Minister Narendra Modi comes back to power. Now that one has made the reference, one intends to move on and focus only on factors that justify a second term to the NDA.

It takes more than five years for economic decisions to actually show results. When Dr. Manmohan Singh opened up the economy in 1990, the whole nation (including the BJP) was crying hoarse that western corporations would eat up their Indian counterparts. Of course, history tells us that nothing of the sort happened; on the contrary, Indian enterprise has actually gone global.

So, we need to give Prime Minister Modi and his Finance Minister Arun Jaitley (Er, he is the finance minister, isn’t he?) time to run the full course for generating employment for two crore people that the BJP promised in their 2014 manifesto. That NSSO survey’s claim that India’s unemployment rate stood at a 45-year-high of 6.1% in 2017-18 may be true, but the Modi government should get a chance to understand and fix the correlation between the GDP numbers of 2014-18 and the lack of growth in employment during this period.

The second issue that needs time to fix is the demonetization process. Modi said it would curtail black money, reduce terror funding and remove fake currency, but there is still some confusion about these outcomes. In a recent TV interview, Modi said demonetization aided the formal economy but was silent on the informal one. Maybe more research is needed to ascertain its impact on the rural economy and on the urban poor.

Demonetization resulted in the highest ever number of registered taxpayers the history of independent India. Once again, time is required to get the correlation between this number and the actual rate of growth in income tax collections. Government data suggests that income tax collections grew 16.5% over the last five years as against 17.5% during the previous five years. So, it is in the fitness of things that the government gets some more time to fix this anomaly.

With US growth slowing down as the impetus given by Donald Trump’s tax cuts begins to fade, things looking bleak in Japan, and the crisis of confidence (among other things) in the EU and the UK over Brexit, the world economy is in a far more unstable place than it was when Modi took office in 2014.

If the predictions of a global economic downturn come true next summer or after, there could be many more angry and jobless youth on the streets, and violence could well be expected. Over the past five years, a high percentage of the jobless youth have found succor in sectarian activism. The incumbent government requires time to ensure that jobs are created to prevent the rise of an angry, anti-social urban youth.

By themselves, none of these are reason enough to give the Prime Minister another term. But the biggest reason (and the one that pulls them all together) is that none of the other politicians seeking to replace him have answers to these issues. In fact, a Congress-led alliance would be at pains to keep the flock intact at the cost of governance.

Everyone knows that rural agrarian crisis can only be fixed by generating more rural employment outside of the farms, but none of the leaders will be able to push this agenda if the predictions of an economic slump comes true. So, why would you want someone else at the helm when the situation is likely to turn for the worse globally? Whichever government comes to power now, they will have a lot of fixing to do over the next five years.

Maybe Imran Khan is right!

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