It is Disingenuous of Gadkari to Now Disown the Phrase ‘Achche Din’

A BJP poster with the phrase Achche Din used during the campaign for the general elections in 2014

A BJP poster with the phrase Achche Din used during the campaign for the general elections in 2014

PTI: You received a massive mandate from the people who wanted a change from absence of governance in the final years of UPA II. One year on, there are murmurs that you have not exactly delivered Achche Din.  Are people being impatient?

Narendra Modi: The 21st Century should be India’s century but from 2004 to 2014 bad ideas and bad actions have affected the country adversely… Today, after a year, even our opponents have not accused us of bad actions.  You tell me, if there is not a single scandal, is this is not Achche Din?

– From Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s interview to PTI

Mumbai: Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari has made the astounding claim that the phrase ‘Achche Din’  – ‘good days’ – was first used by the previous prime minister, Manmohan Singh, but has now become “a millstone” around the BJP’s neck. “Then Modiji used it somewhere and now it is a bone struck in our throat,” said the minister at an event in Mumbai, while blaming citizens for never being satisfied with what they had been given.

Either Gadkari is being tongue in cheek or is acknowledging that even the BJP’s signature phrase – which the candidate Narendra Modi used freely during the election campaign in 2014 – was borrowed from the previous government, just like schemes such as MNREGA, Aaadhar and so much more.

For over two and a half years, not one BJP worthy has disowned the phrase; if anything, its spokespersons have happily used it. Now, when opposition leaders, ranging from Bhagwant Mann to Sitaram Yechury have used it to mock the government and citizens wonder when the much promised achche din will come, the party wants to blame – like much else – the previous government and specifically Manmohan Singh. Recently, even comedian Kapil Sharma, while tweeting about how he faced a demand for a bribe, used the phrase to ask Narendra Modi whether these were the achche din he had talked about.

Whatever Gadkari’s motivation, there seems to be a growing realisation in party circles that ‘achche din’  – like Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s ‘India Shining’  – has become something of an embarrassment, an object of mirth and ridicule rather than a signifier of hope.

While Gadkari is trying to disassociate himself and his party from the phrase, because of perceptions of non-performance, a bit of digging by The Wire shows that the actual phrase was used way back in a song in the Hindi film Mr Sampat (1952).

Based on a story by R.K. Narayan, the film was about a charming conman, played by Motilal, who comes up with all kinds of foolhardy but useless schemes that are supposed to make money for a theatre company.

In this song, Padmini declares that achche din will never come for the poor because the rich and the powerful will never let that happen. Even after more than six decades, the song is remarkably contemporary.

  • Anjan Basu

    Somebody called Modi a past master in the art of the ‘jumla’. Over the last two years, we have been subjected to a veritable torrent of jumlas of all kinds: from the ‘Bethi Padao’ to ‘Make in India’ through ‘ Stand Up India’ to ‘ Skill India’ and what have you. But the mother of all jumlas, without a doubt, is the one about the ‘impending’ Achhe Din. Unfortunately for all of us, the Achhe Din are truly upon us, inexorably eating into social harmony and inter-community brotherhood, and steadily alienating large swathes of the population from the state and its agents. For sure, the Achhe din disease has not afflicted the likes of Ambanis ( and the Lalit Modis and the Vijay Mallyas), who continue to thrive greatly, perhaps even more imperiously than ever before: doesn’t Modi’s well-crafted visage smile out to the hoi polloi from gargantuan ads coming out of the Ambani household, something that our past rulers– craven as some of them were in their worshipping of ‘ India Inc’ – never got around to doing ever before? Gadkari, being slightly more politically savvy than many in the Sangh Parivar, knows that the only road to BJP’s salvation – or survival, depending on how you look at it — is to junk the Achhe Din tag. He is desperate, but will he succeed? Or will Achhe Din really turn into a millstone around the saffron neck?

  • ashok759

    If Achhe Din, the most basic human urge for a better tomorrow, is feeling like a ” millstone “, what will be offered to UP’s voters next year ?