The thumping electoral victory that the NDA registered on May 23 was a verdict that surprised even the most upbeat of BJP cadres. As opposed to popular discourse, the BJP bettered its numbers from 282 in 2014 to 303 five years later, putting all anti-incumbency predictions to rest. And the second successive BJP government, led by Narendra Modi, was sworn in a grand ceremony on May 30.
Fast forward to November 30, there was never a "dull moment" for Modi 2.0. The Hindutva rhetoric has become ever louder even as constitutional hurdles have been tactfully brushed aside.
In a tweet marking the six months of his second stint leading the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the dispensation has taken numerous decisions that have pushed the country's development, accelerated social empowerment and enhanced unity. "Inspired by the motto of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’ and with the blessings of 130 crore Indians, the NDA Government has continued working towards developing India and empowering the lives of 130 crore Indians with renewed vigour... During the last six months, we have taken numerous decisions that have furthered development, accelerated social empowerment and enhanced India’s unity. We aspire to do even more in the times to come, so that we create a prosperous and progressive New India," Modi said in a series of tweets.
We list down six events that defines the idea of New India in Modi 2.0:
1. Abrogation of Article 370
Modi 2.0 announced its arrival with the removal of the special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir. The move will undoubtedly mark the second tenure of Modi government. The unprecedented move on August 5, just two months into its tenure, had caught the international community by surprise. While there were murmurs against India's unilateral move amid its dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir, New Delhi shot down all criticisms saying "Kashmir is an internal issue". The move also proved that the current Modi government has the numbers to alter the course of the country.
Almost four months later, people of Jammu and Kashmir continue to be cut out from the outside world as the government is yet to restore internet services snapped in run-up to the announcement on August 5. Most of the top-level and second-rung separatist politicians have been taken into preventive custody, while mainstream leaders including two former chief ministers—Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti—have been either detained or placed under house arrest. While the Centre claims that Kashmir is returning to normalcy, news of fresh shutdowns from the valley indicate the story is far from over.
2. Economic slowdown
India is facing its worst economic days in recent times as its GDP growth slowed down to a six-year low of 5 per cent in the first quarter of the current financial year. The GDP growth further tumbled to 4.5 per cent, government data released just a day before Modi 2.0 completed its 180 days, showed.
All the major economic indicators, including growth of core industries and inflation indices, paint a not-so-good picture of the Indian economy. Manufacturing has contracted by 1 per cent. Core infrastructure industries' output declined 5.8 per cent in October, the biggest contraction since at least 2005. Consumer spending, according to a "flawed" NSO survey withheld by the government, is at a four-decade low.
With industries reeling under the economic slowdown, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who presented the Union budget on July 5, unleashed several steps to relieve the stressed sectors. In a series of announcements, popularly nick-named 'mini budget' by economists, the Narendra Modi-led government slashed corporate taxes, set up a special real-estate fund, merged banks and announced the biggest privatisation drive ever to revive investment climate and bolster economic growth.
3. Ayodhya verdict
The Supreme Court may have finally put an end to the Ayodhya land dispute by awarding the land to the Ram Lulla for construction of the temple. With the verdict, Modi's second term will go down in the history as the government, during whose tenure, the long-pending dispute was presumably settled. The government needs special mention for its handling of the post-verdict days—there were no heightened celebrations or inciteful comments. While the Sunni Central Waqf Board decided not to file a review petition, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board is planning to file a review petition against the verdict before December 9.
With the Ayodhya verdict, one of the contentious poll issues for the BJP has died down, but it has, at the same time, given an impetus to the Hindutva sentiments across the country.
4. 'Howdy Modi' and Mahabalipuram summit
In a significant show of bonhomie, PM Modi kicked off US President Donald Trump's rerun for US presidential campaign at the 'Howdy Modi' event in Houston. Marching around a packed stadium holding hands and waving to cheering crowds surrounding them, Modi and Trump showed off their 'bromance', even as trade tensions seered between the two countries. The huge rally was also the first time when Modi publically discussed the abrogation of Article 370.
Days later, Modi hosted his friend, Chinese President Xi Jinping, in the second informal summit at Mahabalipuram. While nothing substansive came out of the summit, the fact that the two leaders spent a lot of time together and displayed a very positive body language shows that there is a good understanding between them, and they are prepared to invest in the bilateral relationship.
5. Arrest of Chidambaram, DKS
The second tenure of the Narendra Modi government has aptly made it clear—it will hunt down its critics and will cut to size the Congress. Former finance minister P. Chidambaram one of the accused in the INX Media money laundering case, was arrested by the CBI on August 21.
Within a month came the arrest of Karnataka Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar in another money laundering case. While Shivakumar was let out on bail eventually, Chidambaram continues to be in Tihar jail.
6. Shiv Sena-BJP break up
There was uncertainty as Maharashtra went to polls in October. Election pundits predicted an easy sail for Devendra Fadnavis government, backed by Shiv Sena. At the same time, political equations were pretty unclear in Haryana, the other state that went to polls along with Maharashtra.
But as it turned out, Maharashtra was saving the drama for the fag end. An unrelenting BJP ended up losing one of its long-standing allies, the Shiv Sena, which stitched up a last-minute coalition government with the NCP and the Congress. Sharad Pawar got the better of the BJP this time. The Maharashtra government formation, in fact, had even put the Indian Constitution to test.