MAY 16 — WHEN HOPE TURNS INTO REALITY

may16– V.N. Balakrishna | April 14, 2014

Ahmedabad | Like a drowning man clutching at a straw Congress has latched on to BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s marital status with Congress leader Digvijay Singh demanding a criminal case against him for giving a “false affidavit.”

For the first time, Modi declared his wife in the affidavit while submitting his nomination papers for Vadodara Parliamentary constituency. Congress has contended that since Modi did not disclose his marital status in affidavits of 2002, 2007 and 2012 Assembly elections, therefore, he was now giving out false information.

“Such a liar cannot become the Prime Minister of the country…. If a common man gives wrong information in the affidavit, he is booked. I want to ask EC and Gujarat government what action has been taken against Modi for giving false affidavit. They should lodge a criminal case against him,” Digvijay Singh said.

The Congress, as opinion polls show, is heading for a crushing defeat and its tendency to launch personal attacks against the main opponent is understandable. Rahul Gandhi, who once said he did not believe in “negative politics” said while addressing a rally in Jammu: “We don’t know how many elections he has fought, but for the first time he has written that he is married. In Delhi, they talk about respecting women… but his wife’s name never found its way into the affidavit.”  A few hours later Kapil Sibal filed a complaint to the Election Commission against Modi.

With already four phases of the nine phase elections over with unusually heavy voter turnout, a nervous Congress is pressing the panic button. The heavy voter turnout bodes ill for the Congress as the usual placid voter could be venting his anger against its misrule. Dropping all pretense of sounding honest Congress has latched on to Modi’s revelation to deflect attention from galloping unemployment and price rise. After decades of venal corruption, nauseating nepotism and staggering incompetence, the Nehru dynasty may be on its way out. And for India 2014 could be an historic occasion.

When UPA took over from the National Democratic Alliance in 2004 the GDP was 7.9% following slew of reforms initiated by the NDA. But Manmohan Singh as prime minister almost unsettled it as patronage, bribes and malfeasance increased with GDP growth falling to measly 4.7%. Inflation hovered over 10% during last quarter of 2013 and unemployment rife.

Worse UPA’s reign saw India’s security apparatus in disarray with defense forces complaining of shortage of equipment, lack of officers. There was the danger of falling morale as foreign policy saw a singular lack of vision with Chinese incursions ignored and Pakistan being let off the hook despite its barbaric act of beheading Indian soldiers.

Indian political battle is now a battle of wits between Rahul Gandhi and Modi with the former claiming office as if by divine right while the latter staking his claim on basis of sheer hard work. Rahul Gandhi has never proposed a single legislation over the last decade raising questions about his ability to take India forward. Modi, despite his humble origins, has shown his true métier by dramatically improving sectors like power, irrigation, roads and ports.

Modi’s power sector reforms made a massive loss-making Gujarat State Electricity Board into a profit-making one through restructuring (by creating a holding company, a power generation company, a power transmission company and four distribution companies)and plugging leaks in distribution thereby making 18,000 villages of Gujarat free from power shortage. This was a classic case of ‘leadership with vision’ never seen before in recent times. Even Modi’s irrigation reforms added another 1.5 million hectares to cultivation. Gujarat’s agricultural growth has been 10.97% in the first decade of this century, in contrast to less than 3% national average.

Modi’s no-nonsense policies led to double-digit growth by slashing red tape, streamlining labour laws and wooing investment. Comprising 5% of India’s 1.1 billion people, Gujarat today accounts for over one-fifth of its exports, about one-sixth of its industrial production and almost one-third of the country’s stock-market capitalization. Per-capita electricity consumption is about twice the national average. Modi has created hope for Indians who yearn for better governance, better infrastructure and a decent life. May 16 could be history in the making when a glimmer of hope could turn into reality.

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