Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Very Important Year

If 2014 was the Year of Narendra Modi, 2015 was quite the forgettable year indeed. Two state elections, states where the BJP has previously been in government, were lost in a most spectacular fashion. The Opposition, nearly vanquished in 2014, sprung back with fervor, egged on by the Deep Congress that fashioned one lie after the other, culminating in a totally manufactured debate on intolerance, a term whose Hindi equivalent is so complex that most people don't even know it, and was clearly devised in the living room of 10 Janpath.

Yet, these setbacks are part of life. Some say these are the first setbacks that Modi and Amit Shah ever experiences - that is incorrect. Modi has known much setback in his life, and he has bounced back from them. He will bounce back from this too. This time, he is not alone, for the entire right wing is at his side. But some changes are necessary. The Congress is not going to play ball, so its time to short change Parliament within the rules of the Constitution. Finance Minster Arun Jaitley hinted as much, when he said that bills would have to be fashioned into Money Bills to overcome the Rajya Sabha problem. It is time to play even harder - P Chidambaram once passed an entire budget without discussion. It is necessary to do that, despite how bad it might sound. The option of a joint session is still very much on the cards, and it may be the only way forward for GST.

2016 will be a crucial year. The Modi government would touch its halfway mark, and the time would come for initiatives to show fruit. There have been some excellent ministers in his cabinet - Sushma Swaraj, Piyush Goyal, Nitin Gadkari, Kiren Rijiju, Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani, Suresh Prabhu, Manohar Parrikar, among others - who have done a spectacular jobs. Some of them deserve to get full cabinet positions. There are some - particularly Uma Bharti - who have been terrible, and they deserve to go. Modi must also slow down the excellent pace he has maintained on foreign policy and allow the diplomatic corps to follow up on his initiatives - and for him to get some rest. New talent needs to be found, and that will not be easy, but it must be done. A cabinet shake-up should happen this year.

The 2016 budget needs to be historic - no more incrementalism. A failure there will see Modi losing even his right wing supporters, as Jaitley has lost long ago. This is an important year, for it is the last year when his initiatives will fructify in time for the 2019 elections. The real Modi sarkaar needs to stand up now. 

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