I have in my hand a news item from the Asian Age dated October 11, 1997 (12 years ago). It carries a reproduction of a print ad placed by the Shiv Sena party "a year ago" in all city newspapers -- i.e. in 1996, one year after a Shiv Sena-BJP coalition government came to power in Maharashtra.
The ad carries a prominent picture of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, and he has these words to say: "When I announced free housing for slum dwellers, cynics said I was building castles in the air. Last Dashera, 5000 slum dwellers actually went to their new homes. This Dashera, there will be 5 lac more. And in the next 3 years, 40 lac slum dwellers will be smiling from their balconies."
This is, of course, a reference to the famous promise that helped bring that SS-BJP government to power in 1995, that they would provide free homes to 40 lac (4 million) slum dwellers in this city. With this ad a year into the government's term, Bal Thackeray was letting people know about the progress of this programme.
So why is it reproduced in this news item in the Asian Age another year later? The headline on the item might say it all: "Dud scheme has housed just 1,468."
Yes, on October 11 1997, "only 1468 tenements [were] ready for occupation".
That was about the last we heard about that particular promise. In fact, in this very news item, Thackeray himself said that "he had never set five years" as a target, and that time limit "had been thought up by the media which … put words in my mouth".
Plenty to think about there. I've been thinking about it all as I look at the current round of SS-BJP ads. At least they make far vaguer promises -- competent governance, security, that sort of thing. Specifics get you nailed down, you see. Especially in the comparison between 1468 and several hundred thousand.