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Time for action is now

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. With just two years left for the next Lok Sabha polls, the silent voter may have begun checking Prime Minister Narendra Modis performance with the promises he made.

Time for action is now

‘Graft,’ which became a mantra for Modi’s ranks of non-party voters, cannot escape the spotlight. This section of the electorate, the common man, is important for Modi, as he votes in or votes out leaderships and governments, based on overall performance, where his other interests and aspirations also come into play.

After a decade and more as Gujarat’s chief minister, where he succeeded in preventing any blemish tarnishing him, candidate Modi stood taller than everyone else, when he sought and won the prime minister’s job. He owed it to his image as a ‘development man’ and his record of heading a graft-free state government for so long.

Chief ministers like Bihar’s Nitish Kumar, Orissa’s Naveen Patnaik, West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee, and Andhra’s N Chandrababu Naidu had a comparable record. But none of them had the delivery mechanism that Modi had inherited from his BJP-RSS-Sangh Parivar parent. The main loser was party veteran Lal Krishna Advani, aged and tired but still harbouring hope. 

Requires time

In office, Modi lived up to his image and commitment as a leader who stood by his poll-time promises and fought political corruption tooth and nail. Here, Modi will require time to live up to the commitments that naturally triggered the hopes and expectations of his core ranks of the decisive, non-committed vote-bank. Does it mean that his poll slogan next time will be, ‘Give me another term?’

However, the perceived absence of follow-up action, accompanied by inevitable delays, have come to be seen as slowing down and stalling of processes, which Modi was expected to remove with a deft hand-sweep. That has not happened and expectations on this count are grim. For, there is an increasing perception that as with his Congress predecessors, his government too is using fighting high-level corruption only as a political tool. 

Rather than adding names to the long lists of scamsters, the Modi leadership could ensure that the ‘inherited’ cases from the previous government are taken to their logical conclusion, where the tainted politicians end up paying for their malfeasance.

Those pending cases...

This means that the Centre, rather than spreading the net to cover the entire Lalu Prasad family in Bihar, could as well dust up the pending cases against the RJD strongman, and see that the guilty, if any, are punished. In the method now adopted, the Modi leadership is giving rise to speculation that the raids against Tejswini Yadav and Misa, were aimed at embarrassing the chief minister, Nitish 

Kumar and force him to settle for the BJP as a partner for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls on Modi’s terms. 

Less said about the pre-and post-Jayalalithaa episodes of the kind in southern Tamil Nadu the better. Independent of the claims to the contrary, the BJP-ruled Centre has not covered itself with glory in the handling of political, legal and legalistic situations involving Jayalalithaa’s death in office and all the tax and ED raids that have targeted her ruling AIADMK leaders in the state. 

If they have not spoiled Modi’s image at the national level, it is because he still stands tall, dwarfing his opponents. But things can change. Did this not happen to Manmohan Singh, hailed as the ‘father of economic reforms’ at one time and ending up as the ‘guardian of the corrupt’? 

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