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Columbia University professor Arvind Panagariya has been one of the strongest votaries of the Gujarat model of development. In an interview with Santosh Tiwari, Panagariya explains the significance of the outcome of the assembly polls in four states—Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. He says the primary job of the new government at the Centre would be to formulate a roadmap for boosting investment.
Do you think populist programmes have failed to deliver electorally in view of the results in the recent assembly polls?
Going by the results, especially in Rajasthan where these programmes were tried with great intensity, yes.
But in Chhattisgarh, they seem to have worked for the BJP?
In Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh also provided good governance and his main populist programme, food security, had been in place for some time. So, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh are not exactly comparable.
So, basically, you mean to say that it has to be populist policies-plus-governance to win an election?
The last-moment gimmicks are not going to help. People are looking for long-term solutions. This is where sustained rapid growth, which is one of the likely outcomes of good governance, becomes important also. The voters now want something concrete and not just promises and last minute goodies.
That way, number of chief ministers have been voted to power a third time in the recent past?
Yes, chief ministers such as Narendra Modi, Nitish Kumar and Naveen Patnaik who have provided good governance and sustained growth have been repeatedly returned to power.
But in Delhi, Sheila Dikshit has not been successful and has been drubbed, particularly by the AAP. What was behind this?
There are several pieces to this puzzle. Delhi is where the Anna Hazare movement flourished. So, there was a large contingent of young voters who were rallying against the Congress but also against the BJP. These voters were very organised and committed to the cause. They ran a highly effective campaign from door-to-door. Perhaps the performance of Sheila Dikshit administration in the last term did not help her either. The allegations emerging out of the CWG scandal hurt her image. Finally, the effective campaign run by Narendra Modi also meant that the Congress could retain very few seats. Here it is worth asking if the AAP effect will go much beyond Delhi, for example in Mumbai where the Anna Hazare movement got little traction. My guess is, it won’t.
This is where the concern also lies for the BJP. Delhi was