The people will decide Almost everyone is taking great interest in the Gujarat election and watching it keenly. It is being fought with vigour because much is at stake. The principal contenders for power, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress, are beavering away at their respective campaigns. Winning this election is crucial to their positioning and future in national politics. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity, his sweeping measures such as demonetisation and the goods and services tax and the Opposition’s acceptability would be tested in this election. Gujarat is regarded as the BJP’s bastion and the “laboratory for Hindutva politics”. Given the BJP’s dominance, until a few weeks ago the election appeared to be a one-sided match. Now, pundits are speaking of a possible photo finish. If the current mood on the ground is any indication, the Congress is poised to outpace the BJP. The “Gujarat model of development” has lost its appeal across the social spectrum and has been ridiculed on social media. The perception that Modi is a “jadugar” (magician), who uses trick politics, is shared by an increasing number of people. Time is running out for the BJP to win back voters, who have been alienated by its bad decisions.
The hashtag “Vikas gando thayo chhe” (development has gone crazy) has gone viral and resonated with voters.Tapping into the anti-BJP sentiment, Congress is trying to stage a comeback. Its campaign packs powerful punches the BJP finds hard to counter. The coalescence of social movements led by Jignesh Mevani, Alpesh Thakor and Hardik Patel against the BJP has the potential to deny it the chance to come to power for the fifth consecutive term. Fielding Hindu seers for Hindu consolidation or Ram Vilas Paswan to counter the popularity of Dalit leader Mevani, mocking Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi (pictured) for his temple visits and releasing a “morphed sex video” featuring Patel to defame him may not produce the expected results, if not prove counterproductive. A party’s so-called organisational strength and support of corporate-owned media cannot upturn people’s decision to send a government packing. G David Milton, Maruthancode Viability is a criterion With reference to the editorial, “Narrow, not niche” (November 14), despite the measures taken to speed up resolution of bad assets, the banking sector is still under pressure because of the large volume of such assets, particularly in public sector banks (PSB). Among PSBs, the weak ones are becoming unviable on account of rising credit cost and negative or diminishing returns. At this juncture, infusion of need-based capital is necessary. Recapitalisation should be in accordance with bank-specific requirements. The strengths and weaknesses of each bank is crucial in deciding its viability, therefore, an overhaul is essential to impose corrective measures. Human capital with sufficient skills to optimally use modern technology is of immense value in mitigating risks involved in credit delivery and in framing tech-savvy products and services. Responsive and responsible service to customers is essential for survival in a competitive market. Small banks should look for small banking activities to ensure their survival and to augment risk-free earnings. It is better to diffuse focus from big ticket loans that have long gestation periods. The government and the banking regulator should look to execute merger and consolidation reform in the banking sector only after ensuring that small and medium PSBs are viable enough to be merged with strong banks. V S K Pillai, Changanacherry Letters can be mailed, faxed or e-mailed to: The Editor, Business Standard Nehru House, 4 Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg New Delhi 110 002 Fax: (011) 23720201 · E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org All letters must have a postal address and telephone number