PM Modi becomes fourth longest serving PM amid Covid-19 crisis

As Narendra Modi surpasses Atal Bihari Vajpayee to become the longest serving non Congress Prime Minister, his approval ratings as per different surveys remain quite high.

In the run-up to the 74th Independence Day celebrations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has achieved the feat of being the fourth longest serving PM of India and the longest serving non-Congress affiliated Prime Minister.

Every Indian Prime Minister has had his/her share of challenges; however, PM Modi has the distinction of ruling the country at a time which is being described as the worst crisis for humanity — Covid-19. In spite of criticism of unplanned handling migrant labour movement, PM Modi’s approval rating of various surveys in handling the pandemic is quite high. His dedication of micromanagement via digital platforms during the crisis has left an indelible impression in people’s minds. 

 If one looks into history, late Jawaharlal Nehru served for 16 years, Indira Gandhi served for 15 years and Dr Manmohan Singh was the PM for a decade. PM Modi has surpassed Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had earlier been the longest serving Indian Prime Minister of the non-Congress origin. Overall, Vajpayee had earlier ranked fourth for his tenure of more than six years.

Political commentators say PM Modi has achieved this position due to his ability of bold decision-making and breaking away from the conventional wisdom. His decisions have been full of surprises and his reorientation in the spheres of politics, society, economics, diplomacy and law have yielded results. In his first term he won 282 seats and managed to pull off an absolute majority with 303 seats in the second term.

The country’s security, both internal and external, remains his forte. In the beginning of his stint, he reached out to both Pakistan and China and extended a hand of friendship, but when the neighbours failed to reciprocate, he showed determination to deal with them with a firm hand.

Most recently, his tackling of the situation with China is unique in terms of courage any country has shown and the stand taken to protect the sovereignty of India. Under PM Modi’s leadership, India has shown remarkable courage against China. Experts suggest in the post1962 scenario, India had not shown the determination to take on the Chinese in an allout offensive until Ladakh happened. It was after this confrontation that India took bold and hard-hitting decisions on the economic front as well. Strategic security doctrine of defensive, defensive offence and offence has worked out well in the interest of the nation. Hot pursuit in Balakot has proved the PM’s decisiveness and achievements in the midst of contemporary security requirements. Barring a few aberrations, including violence during the CAA protests, which thrived in a climate of deliberate defiance, internal security approach has been quite successful with no major terrorist strikes or massive communal rioting happening in the country.

The ambiguity of whether to take your family and children to crowded places due to fear of terrorist attacks has subsided. These days, of course, one cannot take one’s family to crowded places anyways.

PM Modi’s social engineering in state politics cutting across caste lines has overshadowed stalwarts like Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav. His outreach of the Schedule Castes and OBCs in Uttar Pradesh, Bengaluru and Himachal Pradesh were successful examples in political experimentation.

In his tenure, the BJP achieved unprecedented success and was able to form government in 20 states. His leadership helped the party achieve unprecedented success by turning tables on the Congress’ conventional and appeasement politics.

PM Modi’s score card in terms of anti-corruption moves has also been good. He has made consistent efforts of leveraging technology to digitise money transactions to minimise bureaucratic interface. On Thursday he launched a new taxation policy for Transparent Taxation Honoring the Honest.

Demonetisation, though failed to achieve the desired results, showed his determination to take tough decisions against black money. Crackdown on black money and money laundering also helped create a positive image of the government. But absconders like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi were a few aberrations. 

 In diplomacy, PM Modi has taken a fresh approach aimed at personal contact building and making rapport with other world leaders. Earlier Indian PMs would stay at an arm’s length with the US President. But PM Modi made efforts to build a personal rapport with both President Donald Trump and his predecessor, Barrack Obama.

He reached out to the world with brand India and aligned strategically. Objectively he has done away with the non-alignment approach. Even after more than 27 rounds of RCEP, India assessed the situation and opted out. Such bold decisions have become PM Modi’s hallmarks.

“Modinomics” is a new term coined to describe PM Modi’s style of economy. A combination of Right-wing and socialist schemes aimed at providing relief to farmers, providing basic amenities to the poor such as electricity, gas, residence have been initiated, most of them have been successfully to a great extent. The leakages in the schemes of poverty alleviation initiated by the past governments have been plugged in his tenure. Social welfare schemes such as “One Nation One Ration Card” have been unrolled.

It is during his tenure that GST was implemented, Insolvency and Banking Code was brought in. NPAs were aggressively chased. Loan disbursement processes were made transparent and objective. PM Modi has also initiated new generation economic reforms such as Aatmanirbhar Bharat, which have become all the more significant in the Covid-19 scenario. The new Aatmanirbhar defence policy initiated in PM Modi’s tenure is also a marked shift from past heavy import based approach of the defence material.

Landmark laws such as triple talaq were passed and some 1,500 redundant laws were done away. The PM has been instrumental in fulfilling some of the most sought after promises in BJP manifesto such as abrogation of Article 370 and initiation of construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.

 Political commentators are quite hopeful PM Modi will play much longer innings. But he will only have to continuously address the issues of bureaucracy, take along political leaders within the party and will have to show more magnanimity.