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Modi completes 1000 days in office on February 19
All his focus is on 2019 Lok Sabha poll
By Kalyani Shankar
On February 19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will complete 1000 days in office. This is indeed a time not only to look back and also look forward. What is his progress report? Has he passed with distinction as the BJP would have us believe or has he failed as the Congress- led opposition claims? The truth is that he has achieved much but there is much more to do if he bids for power for a second time in 2019.

The BJP has increased its tally and is in power in eight states and in coalition in five states. The party has done well in the Assembly polls in the past three years except in Bihar and Delhi. The BJP has overtaken the Congress and has emerged as the biggest party in its membership. The results of this year's five Assembly polls will be known on March 11.

The next two years may well be a defining years as Modi moves to the rest of his five-year term. The BJP strategists have already begun preparations for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Every step has been taken with his second term in view, be it the surgical strike against Pakistan or the demonetisation or preparations for this year's Assembly polls as well as next year's eight Assembly elections. With every step, he is looking to expand his voter base apart from retaining the core voters. Did he not prepare for his prime ministerial race from 2012?

Modi's success is more visible in foreign policy initiatives as he has raised the profile of India abroad and also built up the Diaspora. Relations with the US have improved in a marked manner so also ties with Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, but Modi's Pakistan policy has flip- flopped. The African conference last year had increased the interaction with the 54 African countries. With Latin America and Japan also, there is quiet improvement. Moscow is a little concerned with Indo- US ties.

However, what is important is the rest of his five- year term.

The electoral schedule is quite heavy for the next two years. Assembly polls are due in Gujarat, Nagaland, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh, Tripura, Mizoram, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and Odisha after the present phase of elections till Lok Sabha poll. If the BJP does well, Modi will have more manoeuvrability to attempt more political and economic reforms.

Secondly, March 11 will show whether Modi can have a person of his choice as president and vice president. Elections for these are scheduled in July 2017. With Modi on his campaign mode and adopting a confrontational attitude in Parliament, any agreement with the opposition will take a lot of give and take. The fight with the Congress would only sharpen because in states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, there is likely to be direct fight between the BJP and the Congress.

When it comes to the domestic performance, economy is doing better and the GDP growth is pegged at 7 per cent, which is good. Inflation is almost half ofwhat it was a couple of years ago. India's budget deficit has shrunk. Foreign-direct investment and foreign exchange reserves have reached new heights. Since there is less room for more high stake economic measures Modi has to build on what is at hand to generate brisk economic growth and spend big money on infrastructure and rural economy. Where it has not done well is on job creation and failure to get reform measures passed in Parliament, as it is work in progress. The jury is out on the demonetisation move whether it is going to be a pain or gain.

Even the BJP leaders are watching whether the gamble would pay political dividends to the BJP. Modi's masterstroke on the demonetisation was more political than economic, as he is targeting the votes from the poor and to add this constituency to his traditional base of Brahmin and Bania and Other backward Classes. On the black money issue, will Modi take it forward to target the benami holders and attempt electoral reforms? This could be a double -edged sword.

The second is the agriculture sector, which needs more money to be pumped in. This year 's good monsoon is good news for the government but one cannot be sure about the next two years in view of the vagaries of monsoon. The increasing number of farmers' suicide should be addressed. This constituency needs to be tackled without loss of time, as farmers are the backbone of India.

Thirdly, the country had benefited by the slide in the oil price but it is not known whether they will continue to be the same for the next year. If the fuel prices rise, it will hurt the common man, as it would affect the transportation sector also.

Fourthly, Modi has to ensure implementation of several new schemes he had launched like Make in India, Skill India, Swatch Bharat and Jandhan Yojna to name a few so that it reaches the beneficiaries. There could also be other imponderables.

In short, it is crucial for Modi to keep up the momentum in economic, foreign policy and political arenas in the next two years to come back to power.

—(IPA Service)

News Updated at : Friday, February 17, 2017
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