Why you should vote for the BJP

Ok before you bleeding-heart liberals scream at me pointing out the post-Godhra riots of 2002, or Kandahar, or the Shri Rama Sene, let me clarify that this is a purely economic argument. My argument is that if we want economic reforms to go ahead, we should vote for the BJP. I am not commenting on social aspects, or liberalism, or foreign policy, or defence, or uniform civil code. I must also mention that the only party whose manifesto I’ve read is that of the Samajwadi Party, but I have a decent idea of what the BJP and Congress manifestos look like. Both quite horrible, though they don’t come close to the SP’s.

The main argument here is that no government wants to reform to a situation of lesser government. It is a simple situation of letting go of what you have under your control, without any tangible benefits. After all, reforms have never really won too many votes (though I think if the Congress had campaigned properly, and unitedly, in 1996, they would’ve have spared us from being ruled by Deve Gowda). Yes, the bijli-sadak-paani argument is there, but that is more about infrastructure; not about economic reforms or liberalization.

So why do governments reform? Especially when they are doing so at the cost of their own power? It appears irrational, right? Fact is that control over a particular sector doesn’t benefit all arms of the government equally. There will be a few lobbies, and a few ministries, in a few areas that stand to benefit significantly more from government intervention in the sector,as compared to other parts of the government.

Next, the ruling party doesn’t necessarily control all parts of the government. Yes, they control most of the ministries, but there are several other government posts that may not be underr their control. Some may be under the control of allies. Certain bureaucrats who benefit heavily because of government intervention in the sector may even favour the opposition. I think it should be possible to document the “leanings” of various govenment departments in various states. And which of them will get liberalized when depends on which side is in power.

So the reason people reform (apart from when under severe crisis such as under PVN) is analogous to a sacrifice in chess. You give up something in the hope that in return, the opposition loses much more. So if you look at various reforms carried out by various governments (state and central; maybe even abroad; PVN stands out as an exception) you are likely to see this “chess sacrifice” pattern. Governments are more likely to reform, liberalize and maybe spin off departments that are under the control of parties in the opposition.

The next argument is that the Congress, having been in power for close to 50 years, is likely to be “in control” of a larger number of government departments than the BJP, which has been in power for about 6 years. This is the main reason, apart from left intervention of course, that the incumbent UPA government didn’t carry out too many reforms in the last five years, and even rolled back certain reforms carried out by the NDA (essential commodities act, petrol pricing, etc.). It is also critical that whatever reforms a government wants to carry out should be front-loaded – so as to give the reforms time to “settle down” and for people to adjust, before a new government comes in and perhaps rolls them back.

The BJP by itself is no good when it comes to reform – its ridiculous stance on FDI in retail being a case in point. Yes, they did quite a bit of reforms during their 6 years in power, but one can argue that a large number of them fit the “sacrifice” pattern. However, in general they stand to lose a lot less by reforming than does the Congress (exception is in retail as most traders and small merchants are pro-BJP). And hence, they are likely to carry out more reforms than a Congress-led government would.

You might argue that it might be better to vote for a third front party, since there is very little it has to lose in terms of reforming. However, the problem with most third front parties is that they are all active only in very few states, and thus may not stand to gain much by way of a national-level “sacrifice”. And coming back to a national-party led government, my argument is that you are more likely to see reform in ministries held by the chief ruling party, than those held by the allies.

So ladies and gentlemen, if the Congress comes back to power, they will consolidate power in the departments that they have “captured” over the last five years, and in the earlier years when they were in rule. this number is significantly greater than the number of departments that the BJP controls, and hence the Congress is likely to use the ongoing crisis as an excuse to bring in bigger government. The BJP, on the other hand, with less to lose, is likely to take a more pragmatic approach.

Vote for the BJP. Bring the NDA back to power. Let them re-start on the reforms that were made in 1991-2004. Five years down the line, the Congress can come back and liberalize retail.

Update

I usually have a practice of replying to all comments on my blog. However, you might have noticed that I haven’t replied to most comments on this post. As I had mentioned right up front, I am making an economic argument and have clearly mentioned that I’m not going to entertain any comments wrt social policy (and sadly, most comments have been in that direction). So fight it out among yourselves and don’t get me involved in the discussion. And a couple of days after I wrote this post, I was asked to help out with the Congress’s online campaign.

24 thoughts on “Why you should vote for the BJP”

  1. This party will destroy India. Every state the BJP is in power you see attacks on women and democratic institutions. This party is more dangerous than Al Qaida and LTTE. They will destroy the Indian nation.

    1. >This party is more dangerous than Al Qaida and LTTE

      Thanks for illuminating us with such immense wisdom. Blessed with such high IQ voters like you, our country has a very bright and secure future ahead.

  2. Sorry wimpy, the reasons you are telling to ignore are more important to me than economic agenda (even there i dont think thr is a lot of diff between BJP and Congress). I would rather vote for someone who doesnt do a lot of reforms but lets me live my life rather than vote for someone who does economic reform but wants to turn the society into taliban.

  3. Leaving out the bleeding heart liberal part of me, there are couple of issues with this piece:

    1. Though, as Karthik points out, correlation between strongholds and reforms is well pointed out, the correlation between a smaller government and growth / prosperity / general well being / etc needs is assumed as given. This connect may need revisiting, specially in the current context.
    2. Yes, the NDA government did act on commodities and oil pricing fronts. But, that was during years of some of the lowest real prices we’ve seen. With oil and commodities touching the highs they did last year, do you really think any party would’ve dared to let retail prices reflect reality?

    Frankly, on economic front, I’m split evens between NDA and UPA. Its the ‘other’ policies of NDA that push me away – rather have soft socialism of congress than hard right policies of BJP’s current leadership.

  4. I guess this argument means that voters in TN have been following the optimal strategy all these years by flip-flopping with regularity.

    1. and for all the random stuff that happens there TN is in general a well-governed state. so i suppose it works

      though you do have some crazy form of government intervention over there – like TASMAC (govt run booze shops)

  5. It’s undeniable that the BJP-led NDA did much more for economic reforms and development than the INC-led UPA..but that can never outweigh their blatant nazi tendencies…i was recently thinking of putting a post on how this election is about economic development versus social freedom..a macro vs the micro..and the BJP’s just become too extremist..forget gujarat or orissa..look at what they’ve been doing to your own state since they came to power…i’d rather have a no-good congress plod along than sacrifice my personal freedom for the sake of development.

  6. as others have pointed, the social negatives of BJP far outweigh their supposed economic positives, even if you just consider the net economic gain.

    as for the correlation between strongholds and reforms, while the basic idea has some merit, I don’t see much in the way of evidence. Mostly hand-waving. Why do they bother reforming the areas where they don’t have a stronghold, instead of simply trying to grab those areas for themselves? If you reform, it is neither yours nor opposition’s, and that seems a convoluted way of gaining advantage. How do opposition parties continue to retain hold over areas of governance anyway?

    1. ya social negative that’s right, we have had so much social positives since 1947, that we are now after 60 years of independence concerned about social negatives

      1. Whether what we have had for last 60 years is positive or not, there is certainly no reason to make it worse by voting the BJP back to power. And that too an increasingly strident version of the Modi-Mutalik BJP rather than the somewhat moderate version under Vajpayee of circa ’99.

        1. btw the comparison is between congress and BJP so we have to know what we got from congress earlier to make a fair comparison, just pointing out BJPs supposed shortcomings is not a sane argument

  7. Nice, but going beyond the difference in performance on economic reforms (which has also not been significantly different; looking at the numbers, the UPA appears to have done, or witnessed, a better job), the BJP tolerating and even condoning some of the incidents that you’ve mentioned in your starting line indicates nearly anti-nationalism. These acts in some measure undermine the capability of the BJP to rule a secular and plural nation. Further, seeing who they have on offer as the PM candidate totally kills whatever little appeal they had, especially after his preposterous pre-election behaviour, where he has incessantly yakked on about what other people did wrong without having a single political/national/economic achievement to speak of.

    1. anti-nationalism wow
      congress is brewing patriotism and nationalism great news guys,
      “a secular and plural nation”, then why do we have law based on religion? how can a mohamadden marry 2 and i marry only one?
      “preposterous pre-election behaviour”
      Ya hiding like Manmohan in kennel is the way to go!

  8. Dude, secularism incidentally stands for tolerance of all religions and NOT neutralization of all. Of course, there has been a failure to establish a uniform marriage rule, but that does NOT mean we don’t stand for secularism.Its been a tough cause for every party, but is not a reason to disregard our secular ideology.

    And again, Manmohan has NOT been preposterous. He has responded to ervery word that was shot at him. When he doesn’t respond, you call him weak. When he responds, you cry.

    1. Ya he gets sleepless nights when a suspected terrorist is caught in Australia, and sleeps very well when 100,s of bomb blasts occur in india.
      Thatz some amazing response

    2. As far as your yada yada regarding secular attitude goes, the current comparsion is between BJP and congress not some , not between some idealistic secular wet dream party and BJP

  9. The Congress at least attempts to establish a secular polity- unlike the BJP. There have been errors in judgment- which is but natural in the evolution of a nation. However, disrupting a perfectly stable situation, and even encouraging communal violence through hate speeches has been a recurring and deliberate act not under the Congress. And its only a fool who’d argue that Congress has anti-secularism on its agenda, and that BJP does not. So carry on the what you call’ yada yada’- Love your articulateness and command over the language

    1. congress mistakes= errors in judgment
      BJP mistakes= Bigotry
      btw who wants (at least wanted) to bring in the bigoted uniform civil code, if my memory serves right it definately was not congress

      “Encouraging communal violence” – who said – when a big tree falls ….., thus encouraging and condoning violence against sikhs, someone named rajiv gandhi from BJP oh wait rajiv was from congress !!!

      and ya it was BJP in power during the ethnic cleansing of kashmiri pandits, Those bloody bigoted BJP saffron people allowed the genocide during their 50+ years of rule!!

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