When Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetization of high value currency notes on November 8, 2016, it was shock and surprise for everyone in India including political parties. Many people developed admiration for Mr. Modi for his courage in announcing such a drastic measure and thought that this would be a decisive step in eliminating corruption and black money in India.
The opposition political parties who were caught unaware remained confused for a few days and then realizing that they would become irrelevant if Modi were to have his way, started criticizing his move severely.
While there was broad support for the demonetization move in the beginning, people, who have not been exposed to such conditions in the past, started feeling the pinch of cash crunch. The black money holders and corrupt persons started looking for loop holes to convert their black money into white and some succeeded, with the cooperation of some corrupt bank officials.
Of course, Mr. Narendra Modi and his pledged admirers defended the demonetization move in the media and public forums, while the critics were ruthless.
Mr. Modi facing test of his life
In any case, the demonetization move stood the test of time for fifty days and people, by and large, have stood by Mr. Modi.
Many people think that if this demonetization measure would not yield the results, the feasibility of India getting rid of corruption in the foreseeable future would become remote. Having raised the expectations of the people about his anti corruption commitment to a very high level, Mr. Narendra Modi is now facing the challenge of fulfilling the expectations of the people. With election in the five states taking place in the next few weeks, Mr. Modi is facing the real test.
Do or die battle
Whatever may be the result in the state assembly elections, the political observers are bound to view it as a verdict of the nation on Mr. Modi’s demonetization move.
Of course, irrespective of the results in the state assembly election, Mr. Modi would stay on in power as Prime Minister for the next thirty months until India would go for next parliamentary election.
Mr. Modi has a do or die battle in front of him.
With relentless attack from opposition political parties, a nearly hostile media and pledged critics who seem to have developed great animosity towards Mr.Modi for whatever reasons and several non governmental organisations whose liberal fund flow from abroad are being checked by the Modi government wanting Mr. Modi to go , the battle for Mr. Modi in the next thirty months would really be hard.
Weak government machinery
The common men largely from lower and middle income group who are the victims of widespread corruption in India for the last several years, expect Mr. Modi to catch hold of the black money holders and corrupt persons , expose them in public, seize their ill gotten wealth and punish them severely. The million dollar question is whether Mr. Modi would be able to do this.
This doubt arises since the ground reality is that there is considerable level of corruption and dishonest practices existing amongst section of bureaucrats, tax officials and chartered accountants, who are expected to help Mr. Modi in fighting corruption.
With a weak government machinery and possibly several members of Mr. Modi’s party themselves not being above board and Mr. Modi’s party itself having received considerable amount of donation from rich business men (most of whom may be black money holders themselves), will Mr. Modi be able to effectively hurt these vested interests, which would only intensify opposition for him?
Test for Mr. Modi’s courage of conviction
Many people in India think that the level of commitment of Mr. Modi to curb corruption may not be the same as the level amongst several of his ministers and top officials.
So far, Mr. Modi has been checkmating them and he has to continue to do this in much more effective way. Further, several state governments are under the leadership of corrupt politicians and it is difficult for Mr. Modi to checkmate them in view of the complex and sensitive centre state relationship in the country.
Mr. Modi cannot afford to go down in his fight against corruption. In the unfortunate event of Mr. Modi failing to decisively defeat the corrupt forces, his political fortunes may face uncertainty.
As people are closely observing Mr. Modi’s speech, actions and even his body language and with enormous goodwill for Mr. Modi amongst people still intact, the whole world is watching Mr. Modi’s future moves carefully and with high expectations.
There are thirty months ahead for Mr. Modi before the next parliamentary election, when he has to necessarily ensure that the expectations of the common men are met . This can happen only if the corrupt forces are not only seem to be punished but also effectively punished to the satisfaction of the common man who dream of corruption free India.