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Top priority at BJP national executive: How to handle criticism on the economy?

Anurag Dey | Updated on: 23 September 2017, 17:22 IST
( Mohd. Zakir/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

In what seems to be a sign of discomfort regarding the widespread criticism over the economic slowdown and rising unemployment, BJP has decided to hold an extended national executive meeting. Apparently, the main agenda is to figure out strategies to handle the unrest among the masses.

Even though BJP has been scripting one electoral victory after the other, economic growth is stagnating and the Narendra Modi government is facing the heat not just from the Opposition and civil society groups but also its own rank and file  

Many BJP leaders have admitted to the central leadership that they are finding it difficult to explain the “success” of demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax, to party activists and supporters.

Party insiders say that leaders have also been at loss while explaining the government’s failure to control price rise, especially fuel prices.

BJP’s parent organisation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), is also said to have given a warning regarding the government’s performance.

During its recent annual conclave at Vrindavan, the RSS discussed various polices of the Modi government and expressed concern over economic slowdown, rising unemployment and unrest among farmers.

It also warned that the adverse impact of demonetisation on the economy was denting the Modi government’s image.   

A Reserve Bank of India’s report on demonetisation vindicated the Opposition’s stand that Modi’s move was a “complete failure”, a State Bank of India report has now revealed that the economic slowdown is for real.

“We certainly believe that we are in a slowdown mode since September 2016 and a slowdown that has been prolonged to Q1 of this fiscal year is technically not short-term in nature or even transient," SBI Research said in a report.

The SBI’s observation is in sharp contrast to what BJP president Amit Shah claimed recently.   

Shah at a FICCI event had claimed the dip in the GDP growth rate to 5.7% in the last quarter, was due to some "technical reasons."   

 BJP leaders are also wary that the trader community, particularly small traders, are steadily getting disillusioned with the Modi government’s policies. Traditionally BJP supporters, they have become increasingly critical of Modi because of demonetisation and GST.

The backlash is also evident on social media with many of the users who were hitherto singing paeans in Modi’s support, are now coming out to criticise the government. Perhaps wary of the changing tide, Shah recently warned the youth to be wary of propaganda on social media.

Much of this feedback has been communicated to Shah, who has been touring the country of late, holding public meetings and conducting discussions with party functionaries in different states.      

To be presided over by party president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the national executive meeting on September 25 will be attended by Union ministers, chief ministers and deputy chief ministers who belong to the BJP, MPs, MLAs and core committee members.   

With hardly any time left for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP will use the national executive to discuss threadbare the issues being faced by the government.

At the meeting, the leadership will also chalk out plans to counter the criticism both from the Opposition and the people.     

Like the electoral arena, the party will be banking on Modi’s charisma to boost the morale of the rank and file. Party leaders hope that Modi will spell out the government’s future course of action, during his address at the meet.

The upcoming Assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh are also high on the agenda.

First published: 23 September 2017, 17:22 IST