Parkash, 30, a tractor driver from Banswara, one of the poorest regions of southern Rajasthan, is happy that his family has received cooking gas and electricity connections during the five-year tenure of the Narendra Modi government.
“Our name is there in the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. We openly defecate as we have not got money for building toilets yet. But we have full faith in Modiji that if comes back to power we will get our house and toilet," Parkash said ahead of this year’s Lok Sabha polls.
Parkash, and his ilk, seemed to have voted Modi back to power, despite not having benefited from all schemes. Besides, they did not buy into the Congress’ promise of ₹72,000 per year under the NYAY scheme. “These are false promises. Earlier also, Congress said ₹2,000 pension and ₹2 lakh loan waiver, but no one got it."
Though the Modi government took a few policy missteps such as demonetization, it came back strongly to focus on better delivery of social sector schemes. The result is the resounding mandate.
The Ujjwala scheme needs to be commended, considering that 70 million underprivileged households benefitted from new cooking gas connections in the last three years. This, despite the fact that high refilling costs have prevented many beneficiaries to limit the use of cooking gas effectively. Under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, more than 90 million toilets were constructed. The government claims that coverage of rural sanitation, which was less than 40% in 2014, has increased to 98%.
Though the initiative of providing income support to small and marginal farmers through the PM-Kisan scheme was launched at the fag end of the NDA’s first term, it may have helped alleviate a section of farmers from distress. The move could have helped the BJP in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
Ayushman Bharat, or Modicare, was a significant step towards ensuring universal healthcare, so far benefitting 1.84 million out of 29 million beneficiaries. To lower the cost on medical care further, the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadi Pariyojana was started with 4,900 centres across over 600 districts.
For greater financial inclusion, 340 million bank accounts were opened under the Jan Dhan Yojana. This subsequently helped the centre deposit money to the beneficiaries of several government schemes through Direct Benefit Transfer—more than ₹6.05 trillion was directly transferred to the beneficiary bank accounts. Under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, 73% of the 150 million Mudra loans was disbursed to women entrepreneurs.
However, the massive mandate of the general elections has shifted to what could the masses expect in the next five years. William Foster, vice president, Moody’s Investors Service, said any credit implications to the outcome of India’s general election will be determined by the policies adopted by the government in the next few years. “These policies have yet to be formulated. At this stage, we expect the broad push towards fiscal consolidation to remain, although with greater policy emphasis on supporting low incomes."
Shubhada Rao, chief economist, Yes Bank, said with relative comfort on India’s macro economic indicators, the immediate focus clearly needs to be on growth, especially job-inducing growth.