On the economic side of things, the general perception is that the government hasn’t quite met the expectations, which were and still remain quite high. In fact, there is a further, new-found surge in expectations in recent times. I have been going on election trips for the past 20 years with a group of journalists—we’re called the ‘limousine liberals’, because we travel by cars to rural areas. Last month, on one such trip, we stopped in a village near Guna in Madhya Pradesh. It was 2 pm, and the village seemed deserted. No one in sight, except for a woman. We asked her version of what was happening, development-wise.
Soon, other women joined the conversation. Some said they had to bribe the sarpanch to get their toilet built, but that toilets were being built. Some complained they hadn’t obtained funds under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna. Despite the notes of discontent, I was happy to see that women were assertive about their complaints. This is a mega transformation. For the bottom 60-70 per cent, India has never had it so good. What do I mean? Look at the LPG chulhas, wherever you go, you can see them having replaced coal and wood. Two women in this schedule caste village invited me to see their homes. One of them complained that she was yet to get the funds promised for building a house. But the situation has improved on the whole. What started as Indira Awas Yojna never succeeded as much as it has succeeded now. People are getting benefits and this has raised legitimate expectations.