‘All you have to do to win 2024 is concentrate on good governance.’
‘There is only one thing to worry about: Think of how history will judge you if you do not do what you were expected to,’ asserts Ramesh Menon, author, Modi Demystified: The Making Of A Prime Minister.
Dear Narendra Modiji,
In another two years, you will face a parliamentary election. If you win, you would have had 15 years to change the face of India. And also change its image in the world.
It is not difficult to win it in 2024. So, let the Bharatiya Janata Party not show its nervousness and sense of panic by polarising society in the run-up to the elections.
There is no need. You will win even if you do not do that, but instead do some basic things to win the hearts of the electorate.
In your powerful oratory style, please tell those rioting on Indian streets, those shouting inflammatory slogans and those who are whipping communal hatred, that they would be taken to task under the stringent National Security Act.
Tell people to stop using social media to create divisions among communities and castes in your stern style.
Ask them to think logically and not recycle prejudice.
Ask troll armies on social media to stop spreading fake news and indulge in character assassination.
Ask those spreading fake news that they also can be jailed.
India should not look like a sectarian battleground.
You will be the new statesman uniting India and not dividing it.
The minorities will be your new vote bank.
Your image will soar in mainline India that wants peace and harmony. The slogan shouters and unruly elements are in a microscopic majority.
But since they are loud, it does not mean they are powerful. It is the silent majority that will rule the ballot.
Consequently, the worldwide condemnation of the violation of human rights and attack on minorities in India will die down as they would see a new leader emerging who is not ready to let his country be destroyed.
There is a massive brain drain that is happening.
Bright youngsters are winging off to foreign lands on the pretext of studying but are buying time to find a job there and never return as Indian citizens. That is because they see little hope.
If there is an environment where there is harmony and peace, where talent is rewarded, where jobs are available, and where there is a level playing field, they will stay back. Many will return.
There is no place as good as your own country.
Get yourself a new Cabinet. Surround yourself with smart, young, educated, and bright politicians who will give you ideas that will propel India.
Rope in some non-politicians like scientists, industrialists, and technocrats to power your Cabinet.
Ultimately, you will get the credit for their excellent work.
Visionary leaders surround themselves with people who are brighter than them.
It will show that you have a new confidence and are not worried about leaders around you brimming with talent.
Nor are you afraid of the old guard that will not like what you do, wanting to cling to power forever.
Work towards strengthening democratic institutions like the judiciary, the legislature, the bureaucracy, Election Commission, Right to Information, and the like.
It will install a new faith that everyone in the world has in the world’s biggest democracy that has promise like no other country in terms of future growth.
But growth can only happen if the world sees India as a great investment opportunity.
Foreign Direct Investment will not happen if there are wars among communities pockmarking the nation.
Encourage federalism. States need space to grow. Congress tried to run states by diktat and raw power of the High Command. Do not copy that.
Give chief ministers the space and freedom to build their states as it makes India stronger.
Each state can become an island of growth and prosperity.
Do not deny them their rightful share of taxes and wealth.
Various chief ministers have recently complained about how the Centre is not shelling out the percentage of taxes due to their states.
The 15th Finance Commission has recommended that 41 percent of shareable taxes collected by the Centre should be transferred to the states.
You cannot expect states to practice austerity when the Centre okays a new Parliament complex that includes a new residence for the prime minister and the vice president that will cost the taxpayer over Rs 20,000 crores (Rs 200 billion).
You have to walk the talk. Get rid of such bad optics.
Build a countrywide health infrastructure on an emergency basis so that new waves of the pandemic do not destroy families and their faith in governance.
A healthy nation will ultimately cut health costs.
Look at what the Aam Aadmi Party did in Delhi for the last seven years to strengthen the health and education infrastructure.
You will see how it impacts the population in the years to come in the capital.
A literate and healthy population can change India in ways we cannot imagine today.
It is okay to lose some states. Having an Opposition will keep your government and party on their toes.
Ask the BJP not to engineer defections to grab power in states where the Opposition won an electoral battle.
It will be proof to all of us that democracy is alive and kicking.
Stop arresting those who are critical of you and your government and party.
Listen to what they are saying instead of throwing them into jail under draconian laws so that they do not even get bail.
Such acts erode the faith in the system and show you are intolerant and afraid of criticism.
Release social activists incarcerated in jails for political reasons.
You should be encouraging and empowering citizen groups to question policies and government actions so that you can course-correct them, if necessary.
Stop politicisation of education. Appoint brilliant academicians as vice-chancellors, not RSS activists.
Encourage healthy political debates in parliament before passing bills.
The 2021 Monsoon session of the Lok Sabha passed 18 bills, with each averaging a discussion of just 34 minutes.
Some bills were passed in five minutes! Not a single bill was referred to a parliamentary committee.
How can we ensure good legislation without discussion?
If you had taken farmers into confidence before bulldozing the farm laws through Parliament without even a decent debate, you would not have had to repeal it.
Ditto for demonetisation.
Ditto for a lockdown announcement giving hardly a few hours for migrants to leave for home.
Encourage data mining in every ministry so that proper policies can be sculpted.
Burying or camouflaging data in areas like hunger, poverty, and unemployment never helped anybody.
The more it is hidden, there will be more suspicion that the government is failing.
Encourage scientific thinking and temper and not give credence to superstition and blind belief.
When you talk of scientific reasoning, your ministers and followers will do it too.
India is a leadership-driven society.
Destroying nature to boost business activity has never paid anywhere in the world. It is a short-sighted move.
Stop it immediately and create a sustainable development model where India’s seriously damaged environment is not further compromised.
We need to protect India’s forests, wetlands, grasslands, and coasts which are under severe threat. Future generations will bless you.
Use India’s strict laws to punish dishonest businesses that do not even pay taxes.
Instead of bill receipts, millions of them give scraps of paper with the amount scribbled on them. Indeed, they can be caught. Stop tax leakages.
Instead of raising taxes on fuel every few days, tax luxury cars.
Make public transport a priority to save precious energy and reduce pollution on Indian roads.
There is no need to fear the Opposition. Look at the state of the Congress, one of India’s most prominent political parties.
All you have to do to win 2024 is concentrate on good governance.
There is only one thing to worry about: Think of how history will judge you if you do not do what you were expected to.
Ramesh Menon, award-winning journalist, educator, documentary film-maker and corporate trainer, is the author of Modi Demystified: The Making Of A Prime Minister.
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com
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