How long will catchy slogans & acronyms keep people's hopes alive?

Samarjit Kambam *

Positive India to Progressive India. Cool. Hope it's not a kind of progression tantamount to a situation where an HIV positive person's infirmity gets progressive with each passing day. Look East Policy to Act East Policy, a policy which is being looked upon many a times but not acted upon. Cash to cashless or Digital India affecting lives of many living in the rural areas where electricity supply don't reach.

Imphal rapidly progressing from a 'to be' Smart City to a Clumsy City, one of the worst unplanned city in India. Four lane highway, many a times we have heard, however, we've begun to doubt whether it will materialise during our lifetime. Crores and crores of rupees for development of National Highways of Manipur, but so far, the two highways i.e. Imphal- Dimapur & Imphal-Silchar are still in a deplorable and pitiable condition.

"Sab ka Saath, Sab ka Vikas" is a flagship slogan of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's campaign, but there is no development for all. Only the rich, super rich ones and elite ones grow lofty heights in terms of wealth, profit and fortunes but even the ray of hope of development is not seen by the poor in the rural areas. The present government can definitely be termed as pro-rich, no doubt about that.

The opposition party, i.e. the Grand Old Party has become a mouse in a dark alley. In a democracy, a weak opposition means weak governance, where the ruling party will take the opposition just for granted, just for name-sake. What adds more to the irony of the Congress party is that Rahul Gandhi doesn't possess the charisma and personality of his father Rajiv Gandhi and grandma Indira Gandhi.

Even though he is the President of the AICC, he is being seen as a non-entity for he doesn't possess the oratory dexterity and has no ability to create sensations like our Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi. Democracy is a beautiful kind of government, but the politics prevailing in a democracy especially in India is ugly, dirty and diabolic.

It would not be wrong to mention that the present government at the centre is a government of tags and maxims. Before ascension to the chair of Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi has been known for his skill in using social media, swaying the masses by producing many catchy 'slogans & maxims'. In fact, the rise of BJP under Modi and the reign of helm of the country by NDA government under him involved a lot of social media traction.

Now, as Prime Minister, he's inclined even more towards social media. His typical Bollywood style life history where a tea seller becomes a Prime Minister adds more flavor and awesomeness to his personality. Course, it's the beauty of democracy. This is the first time in the history of Independent India that the saffron party has swayed almost 70 percent of the country by storm.

There are many factors behind it. Most of all, many want a change in the guise of reforms. People are looking forward to an active government, for a refreshing change from traditional politics. In fact, people are looking forward to faster reforms from a stagnant government to an 'alive and kicking' one. Other factors include 'fear'. The Muslims in India jumped into the BJP bandwagon out of fear of the saffron party. The very birthplace of Modi i.e. Gujarat was and is testimony to that.

What really comes as a shocker is that the North East part of India expected a lot from the incumbent government at the Centre, however, so far, only lip service is given.

The region doesn't see a unique or palpable development after all the promises including the "100 Days" promise made by the Prime Minister. Seems like 100 days get tantamount to 100 months. And the step motherly attitude of mainland India to the North East region still prevails.

Only making more and more appealing and tantalisng maxims or tags in the political arena will not work in the long run. If the promises on reforms and good governance made through enticing slogans are not kept, people will gradually lose faith in the saffron party. The central government has a lot of homework to do. De-monetisation led to the loss of many innocent lives throughout India and that policy is rich-oriented. The poor ones and particularly the farmers are the ones who are hit hard by de-monetisation.

The policy was like purchasing a state of the art home theatre system in a house which has no roof, like sending soldiers to a battle field sans any weapon. It is not a well thought out policy but like something that comes out of a knee-jerk reaction or mere impulse, more of a misadventure than a well laid-out policy. The basic and the most intrinsic things should have been carried out prior to de-monetisation.

The policy was carried out to bring in black money from abroad and there was that promise of channelising the money by transferring the amounts to the bank accounts of the poor. Till now the government is not able to grab the black money. Now, bringing back black money has become more of a myth to the people as well as a dream that may never materialise.

One has to learn to crawl before one has to walk. When we start something, it is imperative that it gets started from the grassroot level. The "Startup India" is meant to provide impetus to young entrepreneurs and small business firms to grow. However, the GST that is being implemented goes against the very letter and spirit of Startup India.

Those stakeholders running small businesses are getting throttled whereas big multinationals such as Reliance India Limited, Aditya Birla, Tata Group of Companies and the likes are growing and their profit chart is climbing at an exponential rate. That's why the NDA government is called Modi & Co. Nothing can be truer.

Course, all the slogans from Modi & Co are quite dainty ones. 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' is one among them. The slogan is related to women empowerment starting right from the stage of a girl child but women are gang-raped and killed in every nook and corner of India as a routine affair. The 'Swachh Bharat Mission' seemed quite promising but New Delhi, the very capital of India is in shambles with dirt, hard-core pollution and filth galore.

Nothing can be truer than the saying "Easier said than done". In a democracy, politics is more about marketing which is usually not understood by the masses. Modi possesses great advertising skills. He has been advertising himself and the saffron party to the masses and the Indian masses are such that they get swept off their feet with his masterclass dexterity in political marketing skills which his cup of tea, his hallmark.

The recent electoral results in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh where BJP came out with flying colours bear testimony to that. Just like accruing profit by a company through advertising, Modi is advertising himself, not for money, but for the number of vote counts to accrue, to grow.

In politics, good governance is the market and if the governance turns out to be bad, its tantamount to buying a product after watching an enchanting advertisement of the product in the media which later on turns out to be a shoddy one. Now the public are beginning to get fed up of any newer tags, maxims and catchy slogans.

The masses expect more. They want their dreams to be materialised, dreams built up by Modi himself. Simply toying around with the masses with grand slogans without any reforms will not suffice and backfire with time. Modi had inculcated inside the public's mind with himself as the champion of change. Now after more than two years of NDA government's tenure, the public don't see the changes reaching anywhere.

As the saying goes, "You can fool the people for some time but you cannot fool them all the time". The people expect a kind of refreshing "out of the box" politics rather than traditional politics. Better not make promises if it is not to be kept.

Now, it's high time for Modi & Co to improvise and act before the people's hope fades into oblivion which may lead to a Domino's Effect wherein the saffron party fades into oblivion in the near future.

* Samarjit Kambam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on January 10, 2018.

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