Will Modi lose the next Lok Sabha election in 2019?
Comment of the Day

February 27 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Will Modi lose the next Lok Sabha election in 2019?

Thanks to a subscriber for this article by Arvind Kala for which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Earlier the poor Indian farmer could sell his cow for Rs 25000 when it stopped giving milk. No longer. Now cattle buyers don't step forward lest Hindu goons lynch them.

So the farmer with an unproductive cow leaves it in some open area, and this cow becomes yet another addition to the tens of thousands of emaciated cows standing around in the countryside.

Worse, they eat up the farmer's crop. Losing him the little he has.

India has 120 million cows, according to the last agriculture census. Why would those cow-owners vote for a Modi who impoverishes them?

When Nanded voted against the BJP and Modi this week, it was speaking for all of rural India. Village voters will pulverize Modi in 2019.

About urban distress, facts speak. Mahesh Vyas is India's most respected statistician and founder of CMIE, our most credible source on the Indian economy.

Citing figures, he wrote that demonetization triggered huge job losses. Seven million of them in one year between Jan 2016 and Jan 2017. He was talking of formal jobs in the private sector.

Those seven milllost jobs means at least 28 million people pauperized, at four people per family, people who depended on those salaries to eat and live.

Today a failing GST has paralyzed commerce all over India. Small traders and manufacturers just can't cope with the paperwork.

And they can't afford the services of trained accountants.

Eoin Treacy's view

Could Modi lose the 2019 election in India? It’s a question the majority of investors haven’t even to contemplate but it behoves us to at least consider the possibilities.

Modi is an economic reformer and his success in Gujarat was one of his most alluring attributes in delivering what was a stunning electoral victory at the last election. However, Modi is also a populist, in fact he was the first of what is now an increasingly long line of successful populist politicians. Granting single party rule to the BJP also promoted Hindu nationalism to the national stage where it has become more assertive.

The demonetisation, which changed the R100 note, was primarily aimed at disrupting terrorist financing in Kashmir in my view. The associated actions against corruption and cash payments were welcome but the introduction of a digital economy has done more in China for example to snuff out counterfeiting than any other factor. The problem for Modi is that the introduction of the GST and the demonetisation, while welcomed by investors, and are probably correct moves from an economic perspective, are very disruptive for rural voters. After all India is still a largely agrarian society.

Digitisation is a double-edged sword for Indian politicians just as it is a growth engine for the economy. What that suggests to me is that since Modi could not possibly deliver on the expectations that delivered single party rule, the BJP will probably see a reduced majority or lose the majority at the next election but Modi will probably still be prime minister.

In the meantime, the Nifty Index is still engaged in a process of mean reversion and a sustained move below the trend mean would be required to question medium-term scope for additional upside. 

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