The most definite, resounding answer to PM Modi’s rabid critics of demonetisation is out. BJP’s imminent victory in the biggest state of India, Uttar Pradesh, and the state of Uttarakhand comes as a tight slap on the faces of those who took on demonetisation. Opposition parties across states had called the Narendra Modi government’s massive demonetisation move a blunder, and had even gone ahead to project it as legalised loot and plunder! But PM Modi and his government have emerged triumphant amidst all the thunder!
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had, on November 8, taken the country by surprise when he announced that old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes would cease to be legal tender money. In his own words, the step was aimed at checking black money in the economy and counter terrorism and fake currency rackets. The step was unprecedented in it’s scale – 86% of the nation’s in circulation currency was sucked out of the system! PM Modi had urged people to be patient and give his government 50 days to normalise things. Long queues outside banks, empty ATMs and cash crunch became common sights in the days following the announcement.
The Winter session of the Parliament was washed out and Opposition parties – Congress, SP, BSP, AAP, TMC – launched nationwide protests. The government was blamed for vicitimising the poor, hurting farmers and being callous. Demonetisation was painted as a ‘demon’ that had been unleashed by the Modi government on people. Gloomy and doomsday pictures were painted by political leaders. Some claimed that the economy had been set by many years. Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi even went ahead to suggest that PM Modi did not consult anyone, and decided to go in for demonetisation without any thought and idea of the ‘damaging consequences’. Many economists and opeds from across the world also criticised the move.
Interestingly, multiple opinion polls in the months following demonetisation showed that Modi had public support, despite the pain people faced. People across the country said that they were willing to bear discomfort for the betterment of the country. It seems, however, that just like the Opposition parties failed to gauge the mood in various states, they decided to turn a blind eye to these opinion polls as well. Opposition parties will now learn that intentions behind a move matter too; while there may have been pain, people agreed with PM Modi’s noble intentions behind such a radical measure.
The biggest factor in winning any poll is to understand the sentiment of the people on ground. Clearly, Congress, Samajwadi Party, BSP, AAP and many others were ill equipped to fully comprehend the faith and support that people had for Modi. BJP President Amit Shah recently said that his party was ready to see the state poll results as a verdict on demonetisation; strangely the Opposition wasnt willing to see it that way. Former finance minister P Chidambaram in an interview to FE Online said that demonetisation would be one of the many factors in these state elections. With BJP set for a massive victory, Shah and Modi certainly have reasons to celebrate. As for the Opposition parties – one thing is for sure – demonetisation turned out to be the devil that consumed them.