‘You have as many as sixty months in the five year term. By one count, this may be a long time. By another count, this may be a short time, indeed, within which we have to achieve all our goals, fulfill all our promise.’- The in-effect statement of Mr. Narendra Modi in 2014 when he first took over as Prime Minister of India
SIXTY months was not just a arithmetical conversion of a five-year period into slots of thirty days each. By doing so, Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi was actually time-binding himself in doing things that would impact the nation in a profound manner. In other words, the new Prime Minister was limiting his option of laziness the words ‘five years’ may entail. Much to the contrary, he was telling himself that he did not have that luxury.
As he begins his second term as Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi will certainly strap himself tight and launch into the new 60-month period in which to consolidate the gains of the first terms and take the nation into higher levels of performance, catering to higher popular expectations and finer national aspirations he himself has triggered. He will, thus, have the benefit of both, continuity and change, as he puts his Government into a faster gear for the road ahead. Continuity will give him the benefit of momentum, and change will give him the benefit of new acceleration.
If the first 60 months were tough because of the lack of experience and newness of the players in their respective roles, the second 60 months will be almost equally tough with the heightened pressure to perform better to prove the point of the return to power on popular vote. The challenge of both the periods, thus, has an equal weight, equal importance, and an equal opportunity to do something favourable and positive for the nation.
In the first 60 months, there was no chance of complacency, and in the second 60 months, complacency will never be an option as the people would watch every move with a lot of keen eye. Thus, the next 60 months from this very moment on, are going to test the Prime Minister’s ability of leadership and the capabilities of his colleagues in the Government, whether the ministers or the administrators, to take the vision forward into the practical domain. In other words, like it happened in the first 60 months, the next term also is going to be under a continuous public gaze.
The first 60 months were dominated by the Opposition’s vicious propaganda based on utter falsehood. That it was defeated at the hustings, was another story, but a similar problem will arise in the second term as well. The beginning of that was made, again, by the cantankerous West Bengal Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee by making nonsensical accusations against the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Prime Minister. She declared her ill intentions by refusing to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the new Council of Ministers. The political tone for the next 60 months, thus, got set almost in the same manner as had happened in the first 60 months.
Of course, there is a major difference between the two terms. In the first term, there were many who felt that the clear majority of the Bharatiya Janata Party (282 Lok Sabha) could be a matter of fluke. This time on, such an idea can never be entertained as the numbers are far more decisive (303 seats for the BJP and 353 seats for the National Democratic Alliance - NDA). Yet, nobody would be able to stop the Opposition if it decides to continue to walk a foolish path. Not just Ms. Banerjee but also Congress President Mr. Rahul Gandhi said, he will continue to fight the BJP and the RSS -- Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh -- ‘fight of ideologies’, as he had said while conceding defeat in Amethi and in the election.
Unfortunately, the so-called ideological fight never remains so, and assumes dirty dimensions of personal attacks. In the next 60 months, the Opposition may continue to be as stupid as it was in the first 60 months.
Let alone that, it is clear that for Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi, the next 60 months will be both, challenging as well as rewarding. The agenda is already set, and some newer points may get added to it for their fulfillment in the current term. Overall, there will be much on hands of the new Government.
But on one point, the new Government will start on a very positive note. On corruption front, in the first 60 months, the Modi Government did a great job. It could reduce corruption in a big way. It could also hasten the pace of administrative disposal of issues since there was enough political will to solve problems. On the economic front, too, the first 60 months proved to be worth honourable mention. And in the domain of foreign relations, India’s record had never been as good as it was in the first 60 months of the Modi Government.
With these successes under its belt, the Modi Government will find things much easier in the next 60 months. Its greatest strength has already come through the massive public mandate, not just in elections but also in general. This mandate was so strong and widespread that it melted all parochial walls that often divided the larger society than uniting it. On this footing will the new Government stand and operate.
We should not make a mistake in thinking that sixty months is a long period. It may be so on a calendar, but may be too short when it is reduced to 30-day slots. From this angle, the term appears rather short, and Mr. Narendra Modi is aware of it fully.
This is the Prime Minister’s plus point. He gives himself no long time -- chronologically or psychologically. And that is where he is different.