If column-centimetres mattered all that much, a well laid-out two-page spread ~ in some cases a single page ~ with colourful photographs would have left no one in doubt about the NDA government’s successful management of the agricultural economy.
Coincidentally, the front pages of the same newspapers that had published this selfcongratulatory message, also highlighted the police firing in Madhya Pradesh resulting in the deaths of farmers protesting the distress in the farm sector ~ little need to emphasise what attracted the readers’ attention.
The news reports were comparatively brief, but they erased any impression created by the advertisement the government had placed in several publications, including this one.
The short point being that rather than try and present a rosy picture, better results might have been achieved had agrarian woes been more efficiently addressed.
First the agitation by farmers in Maharashtra, then Madhya Pradesh and reports indicating a possible spill-over into Rajasthan ~ all of which just happen to have BJP-led governments in power.
Much of the agitation resulting from farmers across the country demanding the kind of loan-waivers that the “populist” but administratively-inexperienced BJP chief minister in UP had effected with the Centre’s approval ~ despite leading bankers sounding a caution against encouraging a “waiver-culture” among farmers who know the value of their vote.
True that the debt burden is not the sole cause of agricultural distress, yet the government’s focus on the farm is wanting: furthering an impression of the BJP’s preference for “big business”.
Back to where this commentary started: ground realities have an uncompromising way of making a mockery of political sloganeering and advertising campaigns (business managers in some media houses would flay such journalistic thinking), and other ways of putting style before substance.
This government has been in place for three years, its anniversary festivity has had little enthusiastic impact. Had even 30 per cent of the slogans trumpeted proved effective there would have been visible progress in terms of “make in India”, “Digitised India”, “Skilled India” and so on.
Even the laudable drive to have a toilet in every home has run out of momentum. Is that because the political managers are convinced that those objectives will not deliver votes, when more dividends will accrue by polarising society, raising communal tensions, exacerbating caste divisions?
Yet this government is fortunate: just as the life-giving monsoon is influenced by El Nino, the political climate is determined by the TINA factor.
And, as of now, a disjointed Opposition appears unfit to “make a fight of it”. Demonetisation failed to provide a political adhesive, as per present indications neither will the upcoming Presidential poll.
Yet for how long will slick advertisements and not-so-slick ranting every evening on TV sustain the government?
It must dispel that “NATO” image ~ No Action, Talk Only. Plenty of talk, to be fair