Just five days to go for Narendra Modi government to complete a year in office. It is a special moment in the history of Indian politics for this is the first time in the last 30 years that the nation is observing a single-party majority government completing its anniversary.
Since the crowd is less and the government is more about governance than portfolio-distribution as is often the case with coalition ones, the first anniversary makes it all the more special to judge the success of a party which has formed government of its own for the first time.
Heading a majority government creates more challenges for PM Modi
But for the Modi government, less congestion means a bigger challenge. Before the Lok Sabha election last year, the BJP was reduced to one individual named Narendra Modi and after the results came out, the entire government was also reduced to Modi. This means the verdict on Modi government's performance in the first year is actually a verdict on Modi himself for he is the only face of the second NDA government.
First BJP PM AB Vajpayee had a comparatively easier test for he had other faces in his govt
BJP's first prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee did not have this challenge for the BJP had other faces to identify then. The demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992 and the Gujarat pogroms of 2002, the two biggest events that the BJP is identified with the most in India's political history, were identified more with leaders like Lal Krishna Advani and Narendra Modi (when he was the chief minister of Gujarat), respectively.
Vajpayee himself was seen as the moderate face of the BJP who could hold a big coalition together. The positive image and the compulsion of coalition politics made the test look easier for BJP's first prime minister.
Modi, as the main face of his govt, is answerable for everything
Modi's task is more difficult in those two counts. He is the main face of the government and the party and neither there is no compulsion of coalition politics to hide behind either. Modi is answerable for each action that his government is taking and the outcome.
The heavy expectation is perhaps Modi's biggest enemy in this battle of proving his government's worth. Issues like price rise and corruption are evergreen and to expect Modi to produce a magic overnight is nothing but living in the fool's paradise.
Even India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru had fought these twin issues during his time and they continue even today, after 14 prime ministers took charge over 67 years.
In India, challenge lies in managing problems more than resolving them
Indian democracy is something which can never be problem-free and calm. The challenge here is not about problems and absolute solutions but to the extent those problems can be kept manageable.
PM Modi has been working hard, no doubt
Narendra Modi is a wise leader who knows the truth of this fact and he has been working hard towards that. His focus on the foreign policy is a big step for it is about heightening India's self-pride as a nation in the international community. Though the left-liberal minds are trying to distort facts and show Modi in the negative light, the leader who belongs to the nationalist camp is doing his best to set the basics right.
Another high point of PM Modi's functioning is that he has kept all on their toes. He is a leader who leads by examples and expects the same from his colleagues.
He has taken responsibility for all actions
He is also taking responsibility whenever members of the BJP-dominated legislature are losing control of their mouth and issuing hate speeches against other parties and communities, knowing very well that this could backfire in the near future. But nevertheless, Modi is doing that as a leader who leads from the front.
Success or failure, it is Modi who has to take it all
While it is Modi who is getting pats on his back when the foreign ministry is performing well, it is also him who is facing the heat whenever important ministers like Arun Jaitley or Rajnath Singh are failing to meet the expectations. If the economy is doing bad or if the home ministry is failing to rein in trouble-makers, it is the PM who is facing the flak and not the concerned ministers.
Insiders in the BJP believe that the PM should now focus on decentralisation and make the ministers accountable instead of taking every responsibility.
RSS is another challenge for the PM
The RSS is another threat to the prime minister, even though it is ideologically not far from the BJP. But the former expects the BJP with a brute majority to implement its pet Hindutva projects, something which is not going to happen anytime soon. A couple of electoral reverses and a stronger opposition could see the saffron camp target the Modi government faster than expected.
Challenges are many and there is just one Narendra Modi in the government to deal with them. At the end of the first year, the Modi government should continue to feel confident for the battle is only going to be much more difficult from here on.