Tag Archives: Narendra Modi

Look Out for Presidential Chief Ministers

I have piled on Sagarika Ghose earlier, but I must give credit when she is right. I think that she is essentially right here.  I had written earlier that

Very few politicians have tried to break out of this cycle, and I believe that the person with the greatest chance of succeeding is Modi.

The other person who is succeeding is Naveen Patnaik.   Neither Modi nor Patnaik has an immediate chance of succeeding at the national level, but then, I’d expect a vacuum at the national level for the next few years anyway. In the next few years, I believe that we will see many more of these presidential Chief Ministers, i.e. Chief Ministers who bypass intermediaries and forge a direct contract with their constituents.  The contract is: I provide you good governance and you vote for me. This will replace the multi-level contracts based on various caste allegiences that are now the norm. The Central Government will be a confederacy installed by these Chief Ministers.

And, this is something for the BJP to think of. 15 years ago, the BJP would have been the natural place for all these Chief Ministers to be in ( or be in alliance with). Now, it is no longer true.  Karnataka is one place where they are really badly screwing up.  There, if you had a presidential Chief  Minister like Modi, they could have achieved a permanent majority just as they have achieved in Gujarat. Instead, they have Yedyurappa.

Also, this moral policing is a bad mistake. If you are wondering how this point is related to the previous ones, trust me, it is related. I have just skipped a few steps in the reasoning.

Election Predictions

I won’t make any, because I think that it is impossible to predict elections in India, but I think that Mayawati becoming the Prime Minister is the best case scenario. With our fiscal condition being what it is, in another year or so, we will have a Seldon crisis that will close off all options except the one that will lead to Narendra Modi as Prime Minister.

Rerun – Popular Will and Divine Will

As you ponder over the results of the elections in the five states, it is time to rerun an old post from over a year back: Popular Will and Divine Will

Essentially, I believe that the first fundamental lacuna of India’s democratic system is that a government’s performance at governance has nothing to do with its performance in the elections. Everyone can explain an election after the results are declared, but no one can predict it in advance. I believe that in India, a statement like “If you do X, your probability of returning to power in the next elections is Y” cannot be made for any values of X or Y. This applies to all X, whether X stands for “good” policies  or populist policies. Neither kind of X will have any kind of cause-and-effect relation on election results. 

The problem is not just the electoral system. It is also because no value of X will translate into any result on the ground. A politician can hatch a scheme whereby he can promise free colour TV to all voters. He may think that voters will get TVs and vote for him, while he gets kickbacks from the manufacturer. But given the corruption in the administrative mechanism, it is pointless to try and put this scheme in action. There is no guarantee that the TVs will reach the voters, and therefore there is no way to ensure that his constituents vote for him. 

Given this reality, if I were a politician, I would basically forget about trying to get reelected and concentrate on making money.

Very few politicians have tried to break out of this cycle, and I believe that the person with the greatest chance of succeeding is Modi.

Defending Modi’s Honour is Unnecessary

Ritwik’s lament is that all his arguments with me devolve into nitpicking.  My response is, he starts it.  For example, in my post about terrorism, I model Narendra Modi as being interested only in votes, not in combating terrorism. Ritwik’s response to that is that while is interested in both fighting terrorism and winning elections, and when there is a conflict between the two, winning elections takes precedence. In FitW’s formulation of the same point, Modi considers winning elections his patriotic duty to keep the evil Congress at bay, and therefore considers short term setbacks in the fight against terrorism as acceptable collateral damage. 

This is an astonishingly subtle distinction, and I took some time to grasp it. The trouble is, this distinction has very little to do with my actual argument. 

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