Dear Narendra Modi — here are some thoughts on how you can course-correct after Bihar.
Dear Mr. Modi, I’m no election expert - but here’s my read-between-the-lines about the BJP disaster in Bihar, and a few thoughts on what you might do to course-correct.
1. The people of India voted you into national government because they wanted a better economy.
One part of that was reforms, another was clearing logjams, a third was reducing corruption and yet another was bringing black money back.
Strangely, all parties promised this - but you were trusted best to deliver this "better economy". P.S. All parties still promise this. It’s still the main agenda - it’s what matters.
2. Your report card on this is spotty so far: reforms haven’t happened, logjams haven’t yet cleared, corruption may have come down a bit but hasn’t disappeared, and your promises about black money have largely proven a joke.
3. Instead of focusing on these and working on your mandate, you veered off in two completely different directions. One: following an agenda that you were NOT voted in for: banning beef, having pure vegetarian days, shutting down international NGOs, hindu-fying history and literature and generally doing the bidding of your foster home, the RSS, to turn India into a Hindu nation.
As you’ve seen by now and heard: most Hindus do NOT want to turn India into a Hindu nation. Indeed, if the RSS wanted to stand by its convictions, they could put candidates up in elections and try doing so directly. Instead, they’re now the Sonia Gandhi of 2015 — no accountability, but all the power, seemingly controlling you, the Prime Minister and their loyal servant, via remote control.
None of these actions of yours had any electoral legitimacy - yet you did the bidding of your trainers at RSS.
Hopefully, you’ve learnt by now that the people voted in the BJP and not the RSS. Please do keep this in mind.
4. And second, your curious desire to position yourself as some international statesman of stature, out-doing Nehru, and spending more time visiting places outside India than being in India itself.
This has led to all decisions being centralised within the PMO and seemingly none being taken by you or your Ministers - it was strange to see that even your defence minister didn’t know what the original OROP declaration was going to be: he merely read out what your boffins in the PMO sent him.
And it’s also led to you deliberately ignoring all kinds of anti-Muslim malfeasance - whether it was your deliberate non-condemning of the Dadri Mutton Murder, or it was your deliberate looking-the-other-way when orange-clad swamis in your party make ridiculous statements about Shah Rukh Khan going to Pakistan, or when another Hindutva-vaadi nonentity is forced down the throats of students at FTII, or when the national Academy doesn’t have the backbone to condemn intolerance.
Your looking-the-other-way-while-RSS-does-its-dirty-deed is now obvious to people. Hope you can now see that it is not expected of you.
5. So you want a second term as PM? Here’s what you need to do.
Ditch the RSS. Yes, they might have been your spiritual home for ages - but those guys are screwing up India and nobody likes them anyway - plus they cost you a huge chunk of votes - your national vote share in 2014 was 31%, your vote share in Bihar back then was 30%, and it’s since dropped to 24% in the state.
You’ve lost a quarter of your earlier fan base already in just a year-and-a-half.
So ditch the anti-Muslim, anti-Pakistan rhetoric. We want a country where religion doesn’t matter. And we want to grow bigger, not fight wars. Compare us with China and the US if you like. Let’s aim to matxh and beat them. Let go of Pakistan, they’re tiny. They don’t matter.
6. Get right back on your economic agenda.
Stop the damn foreign tours, except when it’s part of the economic agenda. Pass bills. Get e-governance working. Lower corruption. Get the economy flowing again.
7. Get some humility. Get off the RSS path-of-arrogance, and deal with the opposition nicely.
Work WITH them and not against them to get GST and the rest of bills through parliament. They want it, you want it, we all want it.
All that’s coming in the way is your ego and arrogance.
Look, the opposition want to knock you down a peg or two. Let them. The country is bigger than your ego. And the bills will pass. Obama has managed to get stuff through the Republicans by sitting and talking with them, keeping pride and misplaced superiority aside. You can, too.
You can’t travel around the world and leave the parleying in India to your ministers. You’ve got to do this yourself.
Else you’re increasingly this strange spectacle of a man who is feted widely abroad, but rejected in India. Focus on India, please.
Perhaps Bihar will have taught you the lesson the country wanted to deliver - that we don’t care for your arrogance.
You can change. You need to get off your high horse.
8. Get the GDP growing again, past 7,% maybe even 8% or 9%.
Let people make money and get rich.
Who knows, they might even vote for you again.
And who knows, you could eventually be seen as that world-class statesman you’re dying to be seen as.
Cheers and all the best,