Who is afraid of RaGa?
By Dr. R.K.Nimai
The ruling dispensation claims that they will win 300 seats in the coming 17th Lok Sabha election and form the next government. This is spoken with lots of confidence by both the central and state BJP leadership. Whether this is mere bravado or after critical analyses, only time will tell. Most of them say that Congress is a spent force and they will never again come to power. This may be true as the position of Congress in UP is poor and their ability to win more seats in this big state is a big question mark; some say, even beyond the wildest dream, and no party can form a government without garnering a fair amount of seats in this state.
If Congress is a spent force, why is the BJP leadership targeting Rahul Gandhi all the time? This indicates that in the back of their mind, the poll reversal in 2004 is still rankling. The India Shining campaign of the NDA then could not bear fruit. That time also India won a decisive battle against Pakistan in Kargil. This time it is the air strike at Balakote after the Phulwama attack. There is certain amount of similarity. Congress then led by Sonia Gandhi, a political novice who could not speak fluently either in English or Hindi led to a momentous victory. This perhaps continues to haunt BJP. If they in their hearts realise that Congress is a spent force and Rahul Gandhi does not possess the leadership quality to lead the country, why waste time in lampooning him. Targeting Rahul Gandhi all the time by the minions of Modi indicates the weakness of the BJP.
UPA-I was a coalition government and one of the constituent in the coalition government, the communists, was against anything to do with western countries. They became more of an opposition rather than partner in the Government just like Shiv Sena is doing to the present NDA government. UPA-II is racked with scams, Coal, 2G, and what not but unfortunately no political personality could be put to jail despite 5 years of NDA rule. Poor Laloo is the only high and mighty who whiles away his time in jail. Either the politicians belonging to different political parties protect each other as all are equally corrupt, or the allegations are made without substance. Now also, when allegations were made about corruption in the Rafale deal, with the blame laid on the PMO, the PM continues with his mauna brata on this topic while his chamchas who are politically light-weights not being able to win popular election and come to the government through Rajya Sabha defended him vigorously. This rings hollow and if the PM clarifies the matter in detail it is confident that the matter can be put to rest. To be frank, in Manipur Rafale deal has no impact; as every voter here are reconciled with the belief that all politicians are corrupt and they believe so as without taking bribe, how can the political party spend such colossal amount in the elections?
NDA is more decisive in taking decisions as compared to the UPA-I or II. But was all such decisions correct a moot question? I will again rake up the issue of demonetisation of high value currency in November 2016.The objectives of this sudden act was changed from time to time indicating that it is an attempt to justify and rationalise this highly disruptive act. If it is to control fake money, it is wishful thinking especially with the introduction of a higher value currency note of Rs. 2,000, which was counterfeited in a short time. Indian rupee is not counterfeited by criminals acting on their own but by sovereign nations which has all the capacity to counterfeit it. If it is to control black money, more than 99% of the total value of the high currency notes in circulation is deposited to the banks. It is true that the income tax returns shot up but the collection is not as high as the returns. New black money is generated as almost all the bribe amount is in black. Thus, the measure on this count is also questionable.
However, I agree to the enforcement of GST, which was the hallmark of modern taxation practice but it was done without proper ground preparation. As a result there was confusion and the Empowered committee had to work overtime to make it functional, very shakily at first. Now it has somewhat stabilised though there are still tweaking in the rates and procedures. This has to continue as with time priority changes and learn with experience. Ideally there should be a single tax rate which will simplify the tax regime and management but in a country like India this at present is not possible. Can one tax at the same rate tobacco and medicine? The answer will be a big no. The tax rate was keep high at the first instance as it was feared that the collection will be less in many states which will have to be made good by the centre. After some time the rates were reduced item by item. The taxing of handloom products, which engages fairly large number of weavers who earns a paltry wage, is unjustified. Taxing medicines at different rates complicates at the retail level. Such small issues indicate that proper study was not carried out before it was enforced. I have issues with the government who succumb to the pressure in the automobile sector with little incentive to e-vehicle makers. Without government policy, this sector will continue to suffer. It is good that the cross subsidy between petrol, diesel and kerosene is being reduced but to continue to treat kerosene as poor man’s fuel is illogical.
BJP’s problem is the utterances of their leaders, speaking at cross purposes. It came to power with the development agenda. Many of the promises like providing two crore jobs every year is a mere pipe dream, the data published indicate in 2018 it shrunk by 1.50 crore. Bringing back all the black money deposited in foreign banks continues to be a wishful thinking with hardly any progress. But the most dangerous philosophy is some of its elements only say “Hum hindu rashtra chahiye”, which will bring a death knell to the secular democratic set up of the country. The top leaders just could not control or admonish such fringe elements. It is quite surprising that regional parties in the north east whose members are mainly Christian go hand in hand with BJP. Politics make strange bedfellows. The youth are not bothered with the religion, caste or creed but what they want is gainful employment with a reasonable salary and a good life. The large youth population with proper management could propel India as a leading power but if not they can become a huge liability creating turmoil within the country. The fringe elements who are willing to kill for cow, will divide the country. Why bother what one eats? Cows are huge assets, providing milk and once their productive age is over can be consumed and its hides used; but if not culled who will feed them? Don’t expect the farmers to continue to feed them even when they become unproductive. If culling and killing is not allowed, these will be set free to roam the streets and they will become ungainly thin, with limited food to forage. Policy has to be holistic and not dictated by ill conceived principle.
Which party comes to power, none can provide satisfaction to all; be it BJP or Congress. India is a large country with different aspirations and to fulfil all is impossible as many of the aspirations are at cross purposes. What we as citizens want are limited; less corruption at the public-government interface level and a good life with limited interference from the government. The best government is the government with least interference.
Many of the promises made by BJP in 2014 have not been fulfilled but no government has ever fulfilled all their promises. Manifesto or vision document are objectives which everyone forgets once the elections are over. Will the Rs. 12,000/- largesse to the small farmers bring them back to support NDA is to be seen. Providing free anything downgrades its value and leads to corruption. We see in education, TPDS, and what not. If all the freebies are stopped, India can reduce the income tax rate which will lead to higher disposable income and increase savings which will generate growth and employment. This is a wish I have, but no politician will have the courage to even consider it.
Coming back to the title of this article, BJP fears Rahul Gandhi due to the experience of 2004. If they defeat him this time, the ghost of 2004 may be exorcised and not hang around its neck like an albatross and they can even perform better in the next avatar. But if the Congress gets 100 or more seats they will be more afraid of him and will talk against him all the time, especially in some TV channels. His visit to Manipur shows that he had acquired certain maturity but can he pull through a surprise is a million dollar question.
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