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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Why voters support the Modi model of governance

Himanta Biswa Sarma writes: For New India, development means last-mile delivery. This is why BJP governments have come back to power in four states

Written by Himanta Biswa Sarma |
Updated: March 23, 2022 9:41:22 am
Since 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invested a lot of his focus and energy in certain schemes which, collectively, will ensure holistic development and poverty eradication with the household as the basic unit. (Express Photo by Vishal Srivastav)

At the outset, I would like to compliment my fellow karyakartas, party leaders and fellow chief ministers for the BJP’s spectacular victory in the recently concluded assembly polls. I have been asking myself what could have led us to this historic victory.

The year 2014 has been a watershed moment in the history of Indian polity. A new model of administrative structure and governance that puts people at the heart of its delivery was introduced that year. The outcomes of the recently concluded assembly elections are a testimony that the Modi model of governance has provided a recipe for the BJP’s success across the country.

The narrative constructed by opinion makers that the Modi factor is a force to reckon with only in the Lok Sabha elections and does not have much of a relevance in state polls has led to many miscalculations by opposition parties. The myth of anti-incumbency and caste-based experiments have not worked for them: Voters voted unanimously for governance and development. These results have questioned the conventional political wisdom and have decisively debunked the petty politics that does not have good governance at its core.

For the first time in many years, Uttar Pradesh (after 37 years) and Uttarakhand re-elected the party that ran the outgoing government. No political pundit or strategist could have predicted this electoral miracle a few years ago.

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So, what is this Modi model of governance? Having been a chief minister for the last 10 months, I have been observing it from close quarters, and striving to ensure its success in Assam. This model is rooted in the exceptional trust and affection people have for the prime minister. And this is inspired by the principles of cooperative federalism, wherein the state government works in complete sync with the Prime Minister’s Office and other central ministries to ensure high precision last-mile delivery of the prime minister’s flagship schemes. The double-engine governance model enables states to complement the Centre in ensuring the implementation of schemes. This is turning out to be a game changer.

Take the case of Uttar Pradesh — 2.5 crore farmers benefited from PM-Kisan (23 per cent of all farmers beneficiaries came from UP), 1.5 crore cylinders under PM-Ujjwala were given in UP (17 per cent of all India numbers), over 10 lakh houses were built under PM Awas Yojana, over 1.3 crore Ayushman Bharat cards were distributed and over 15 crore people got free ration under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana. In Manipur, over 22 lakh people received free ration under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana and over 60,000 houses were built under PM Awas Yojana. These numbers are evidence of successful governance. The specific focus of the prime minister to turn states in the Northeast and the coast into centres of growth has also been instrumental in Goa and Manipur reposing their faith in BJP governments.

Since 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invested a lot of his focus and energy in certain schemes which, collectively, will ensure holistic development and poverty eradication with the household as the basic unit. Be it the success of the aspirational districts programme leading to the aspirational block programme or the Jal Jeevan mission or building toilets across the country, the focus towards taking the most vulnerable population alongside in the journey towards a new India is evident. This approach is the soul of the Modi model of governance which goes beyond just service delivery and creates a direct interface with the Indian citizen. The model could be closest to a welfare model that has streamlined the delivery of specific benefits to the poorest sections of the society through extensive use of technology, such as the JAM (Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile) trinity. The tech-based approach has also enabled a pilferage-free service delivery mechanism, unlike during the UPA government. Metaphorically, Modi’s governance model is an extension to his radio show, Mann ki Baat, wherein he directly connects to his people.

Going further, all the schemes which emanate from this model — PM Ujjwala, PM Kisan, Jan Dhan, NREGA, PM Awas, Ayushman Bharat and PM Garib Kalyan — have been successfully implemented in each of the states that the BJP won in these elections. Many of these schemes are financed by the Centre but implemented at the state level. Their success can happen only when the chief minister’s office works in close coordination with the PMO. As chief minister, my responsibility is to ensure that all the schemes prioritised by the PM reach the intended beneficiaries.

The 2022 CSDS post-poll survey reports that voters in the five states that had elections rated PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, PM Kisan, PM Ujjwala, Jan Dhan and Ayushman Bharat as some of the most effective government schemes. The findings also showed that a large number of beneficiaries of these schemes, particularly the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, voted for the BJP. These findings are not surprising to BJP karyakartas — however, for others, it does indicate how the Modi model can neutralise anti-incumbency or negative propaganda.

The key lesson for political watchers is that unwarranted confrontation with the PMO or deliberately sabotaging central government schemes will not yield electoral success. Punjab is a case in point. Voters in New India are demanding, they want development, not drama. And development in New India is last-mile delivery. For that the entire state machinery has to be galvanised.

As we celebrate Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav with a vision to make India once again the “vishwa guru”, we must remember that we can achieve the goal only if we strive together. The Modi model seems to do that.

This column first appeared in the print edition on March 23, 2022 under the title ‘How BJP won four states’. The writer is chief minister of Assam

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