- PM Modi's demonetization move has broad support across the country.
- This perception will remain until 2019 as well, despite the flaws.
- The opposition remains powerless against the Modi juggernaut.
Short of PM Nehru, thanks to his valiant efforts to help India gain Independence for the British, no Prime Minister has ever affected every single Indian like PM Modi has thanks to his demonetization efforts.
The move, which is surely one of the biggest shake-ups to the Indian economy in modern times, will either make or break the BJP in the 2019 general elections. And all the signs, so far, point that it will make them - thanks to Narendra Modi.
The 2019 elections, no matter how one looks at them, are going to be a referendum on PM Modi the man. It is hard to imagine any new policy that the BJP or the opposition can create which will overshadow demonetization.
The plan is certainly flawed, and the implementation has sometimes been fatally inept. But the claimed ideal behind it, and the man who announced it have been largely hailed across the country.
Leaving aside the PM's poll via his own app, which will naturally be heavily biased, even general polls by pollsters like C-Voter show support ranging from 65 to 75% for the move.
The PM, for his part, politically bang on when he set the tone of demonetization as an attack against the 'rich black money hoarders'.
Whether such a class actually exists, and if it exists whether it has been affected at all, remains to be seen.
But elections are rarely about what the facts on the grounds are. They are usually about perception. And the current perception, even among the poor who have been the most affected by the move, is that the PM's 'intentions' are in the right place.
The belief that this will end 'black money' has taken root in the country, which has gorged on images of sacks full of cash being burned or dumped in drains. The actual reality, about whether or not black money is affected is secondary.
India has always been a seething churn of 'them vs. us'. The 'them' are usually the ones with means to circumvent the system, which traps the rest. Even back in 2014, Modi campaigned against those who were 'stealing' from the country. And the current demonetization move only further pushes that narrative.
Obviously, there is plenty that can go wrong in the two years to 2019. For one thing, while the economy has been all shook up, now it is time to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. If PM Modi's government is unable to bring the economy back on track, all of this will be a waste.
But even in that case, Modi emerges strongly. Who, after all, is going to stand against him? Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party only sink further. The 'grand coalition' dreams of people like the Yadavs and Mamata Banerjee are not going to upset the Modi juggernaut.
2019 is two years away. But if current trends are indicative, the election is already in PM Modi's bag.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:42 PM IST