Presidential pick to economic reforms, now BJP will have its way, but with a tinge of populism

The spectacular results of March 11, with Uttar Pradesh becoming the jewel in its  crown, may have set the pitch for a decisive policy blitz in the second phase of Narendra Modi's regime — clearing ma

Published: 12th March 2017 03:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th March 2017 03:13 AM   |  A+A-

A supporter of the BJP celebrates the party's victory in New Delhi on Saturday | PTI

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The spectacular results of March 11, with Uttar Pradesh becoming the jewel in its  crown, may have set the pitch for a decisive policy blitz in the second phase of Narendra Modi's regime — clearing many stumbling blocks and bringing a new clarity.

To begin with, at one stroke, it allows the BJP get a head -start for 2019, besides pocketing all the electorate it needs to control the upcoming President's election — await the first incumbent of Rashtrapati Bhavan of saffron persuasion later this year, which will be a hugely symbolic moment.

The BJP has almost bridged the deficit of 75,000 votes needed to elect its nominee as the next President. "The BJP has now improved its number of MLAs in UP from 47 to 325 where each MLA has a vote value of 208.

Thus, the BJP has gained more than 57,000 votes in the electoral college for President’s elections, which along with the gains in Manipur and Uttarakhand almost give the number needed to elect own nominee as the occupant of the  Raisina Hills,” said a senior BJP functionary.

For more hard-nosed gains, there is the Rajya Sabha where these seats will  eventually help close the deficit in numbers, in the years to come. Already, Modi has shown the capacity for "bold" steps of a radical nature — like demonetisation. What will this new authority and confidence now bring? Would that be a harbinger of a new authoritarianism? Without doubt. 

The idea of a strong leader will continue to be fostered because that obviously brings electoral benefits, but the stamp of "decisive leadership" will perhaps be sought to be established more through policies that have the flavour of popular goodwill.

Yes, GST should be a cinch now. Also, with two years to 2019, one may expect party strategists to play it smart in UP by going for stability in social relations (the opposite of what its critics fear). Tamping down on potentially divisive sentiments like Ayodhya is likely, rather than politics of polarisation.

Alongside, expect a big, orderly push towards infrastructure-led development. More crucially, the narrative in which it will be couched is likely to be a pro-poor one — that's the way it will seek to decimate the Congress entirely, appropriating its plank.

Land acquisition will be potentially tricky, so a big industrial push is unlikely. Instead, there will be popular moves like the bill against benami property, a limited loan waiver, coupled perhaps with free LPG, "gaon gaon mein bijli" (electricity in every village) and other such social welfare moves. In a way, the BJP may become the new Congress. 


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