Narendra Modi did two things in the first meeting of the Cabinet. It seems to me that both of them were good things. The first thing, he decided ten priorities which the Cabinet would keep in front of it in its working. The second thing, he told his Ministers to prepare an agenda for 100 days and submit to him a report card of 100 days. I remember very well that when Manmohan Singh became the Prime Minister again, then he too had instructed his Ministers to prepare a 100 days agenda and submit details of the progress in 100 days, i.e. a report card of 100 days. It is a matter of regret that Manmohan Singh, after making the decision, forget about the decision. A full five years passed, and leave alone 100 days, he could not tell people what he had done in those five years. Perhaps because the Government and the Ministers remained sunk in a stupor, there was scam after scam and if Manmohan Singh did issue a report card it was at his last Press Conference, in which it said that we have reached the period of the economy of 1991, i.e. the country has reached the economic baseline of 1991. Naturally, a second meaning of this is that as much economic development should have happened, that much has happened. The policies with which dreams of economic development were shown to the country, those policies did not benefit the country in any way.
Now Narendra Modi has talked of the 100 days report card. The first meaning of this that emerges is that Narendra Modi will decide on the direction of the Government in these 100 days. The 100 days will of course decide the direction, perhaps these 100 days will also determine the state, the condition. But what has to be seen is in what direction Narendra Modi takes the Government in these 100 days. Directions are decided, fixed or determined in two ways. Narendra Modi has adopted one way of fixing the direction, in which he has kept ten points before the Ministers, but these ten objective are such in which completion is improbable or impossible in five years, ten years or fifteen years. But even if the Government is seen working in this direction, even then it should be considered a good indication or signal.
Narendra Modi’s Cabinet is a good Cabinet, but it is an average Cabinet. There are many questions being raised about Smriti Irani which should not be happening, but when two affidavits surfaced she should have come forward with courage and said she had make a mistake and she will place the correct position before the Election Commission.
There are many questions and Narendra Modi has not yet been able to give
answers to these questions, but he has talked of a 100 days agenda and a 100 days report card. In fact, the 100 days are a test for Narendra Modi and we should all hope that Narendra Modi emerges as genuine after this test.
Things like education, health, infrastructure, good governance seem good to hear, but they play a less important role in determining a direction. For an important vital role, a definition, explanation or interpretation of economic policies is essential. It is still to be decided whether economic policies in this country will be for 80 per cent of the people or in favour of 20 per cent. In making Narendra Modi Prime Minister, 80 per cent of the people contributed. They rejected all apprehensions and made Narendra Modi the Prime Minister of the country, but a happy country became a market. Gold became cheaper, but lentils, rice, wheat, vegetables remained where they were, and in some senses inflation has increased.
What Narendra Modi has said about drinking water in villages should be welcomed, but for this what will the policies be? If we accept the ten points as ten objectives, what will be the way of achieving them? The question arises because history has given Narendra Modi a golden opportunity. If Narendra Modi wastes this opportunity, will this country wait for five years? The country is swirling in a vortex of expectations. People did not make any of Narendra Modi’s ideological commitments a basis for voting. They felt that after the arrival of Narendra Modi corruption will reduce, but before that inflation will reduce. That inflation should reduce, for this Narendra Modi will have to search for solutions. Otherwise every Prime Minister speaks out two sentences after three months : the first, we don’t have a magic wand, and the second, inflation and corruption are global phenomena. We should hope that Narendra Modi will never use this language. And the day Narendra Modi does use this language, it should be accepted that same day that a big fraud has been practiced on the people of the country.
The market is endeavoring to make a budget for itself. The media has glorified Narendra Modi in the form of a great hero. Within three days of Narendra Modi’s swearing in Mukesh Ambani has taken over a large media group in the country. In the beginning, IBN-7 used to show reports against Narendra Modi. It seemed from it that the Congress will come to power, and a prominent journalist of the country, Rajdeep Sardesai remained a harsh critic of Narendra Modi from the 2002 riots till now. On 29 May, Mukesh Ambani owned organisations took IBN-7 and the TV18 group into their control. Raghav Bahal and Rajdeep Sardesai had to pay the price of journalism. Mukesh Ambani has purchased shares in almost all the media groups and reports about the Ambani group cannot be shown by any of the media groups in this country. Similarly, another big media group of the country has been almost controlled by Kumar Manglam Birla’s group and it remains to be seen when it takes possession of it in the same way that the Mukesh Ambani owned group has taken IBN-7 or the TV18 group in its possession.
Narendra Modi’s Cabinet is a good Cabinet and it is wrong to raise questions over any Cabinet. Question should be raised when Ministers are not able to show their knowledge and Ministers are involved in corruption, because earlier too it was considered as the Prime Minister’s Cabinet, today too it should be considered the Prime Minister’s Cabinet, but there were very special expectations from Narendra Modi. His Cabinet will come before one. In this country where on the one hand those involved in corruption will be in fear, there on the other hand the door for development will open, but both these things were not visible. Narendra Modi’s Cabinet is a good Cabinet, but it is an average Cabinet. There are many questions being raised about Smriti Irani which should not be happening, but when two affidavits surfaced she should have come forward with courage and said she had make a mistake and she will place the correct position before the Election Commission. People like M. J. Akbar, who has a big name internationally, have not been entrusted with any work by Narendra Modi. Maybe, somewhere in the mind of Narendra Modi the thought may be playing that with the Ministers a team of experts will be formed, so that the Ministers can solve the problems of the country with advice from the experts. Now, what will these specialists be like, because in this country two streams have been continuing from the beginning. One is the stream that considers the market supreme, which keeps 70 per cent of the people in the country outside the development process. The second is the stream that keeps the poor with it and makes policies for their development and which believes that the market and corporates and the Government should give first priority to those who do not have anything. It will be considered that the country will develop only when something reaches the poor.
There are many questions and Narendra Modi has not yet been able to give answers to these questions, but he has talked of a 100 days agenda and a 100 days report card. In fact, the 100 days are a test for Narendra Modi and we should all hope that Narendra Modi emerges as genuine after this test.