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Hollow Promises


Political parties may use populist means to acquire power, but with power comes responsibility, and harsh reality. The Congress formed the government in Karnataka on the back of promised freebies. In the first flush, promises like free bus travel for women were implemented. Now, the husbands of those very women will have to pay Rs 3 more per litre for petrol and diesel. So, what advantage has accrued to the common people by putting money in one pocket and extracting it from the other? And yet, this is exactly the kind of economics that the people fell for.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. The kind of populism that the INDI Alliance, particularly Rahul Gandhi (who has nationwide reach unlike the others), pursued during the recent election campaign has grim consequences. Unfortunately, the alliance is more convinced than ever that this is what got it the improved results in the polls. So, unless better sense prevails, it will continue with this approach.

AAP has been providing free 200 units of electricity in Delhi, which it claims is a great pro-people initiative. Have the people of Delhi considered how it affects the whole power-supply eco-system? Even an essential service provider needs to make a profit, so that it can ensure dynamic maintenance and buy new equipment, etc. If the government subsidises this from public funds, which it could have used in more useful areas, what benefit do the people get? The cost of such roundabout populist delivery, in fact, is actually greater. Also, if money had been put into establishing a better water supply system, the state would not be facing its present crisis.

Imagine if political parties with such unsustainable governance models were to come to power in much of India, even at the Centre? There would certainly be a honeymoon period, but soon enough, the consequences would be evident. Many state governments try and evade responsibility by blaming the Centre, but it is becoming increasingly obvious the problem is misgovernance and lack of anticipation at the state level. It may also be noted that most giveaway schemes also come with heavy misappropriation of funds by politicians and officials.

The Modi Government will have to come up with counters to such populism, expose the corruption and better explain the necessary reforms, instead of allowing them to be misrepresented by vested interests. India’s increased wealth, which has accrued from game-changing economics, is not for the populists to loot and waste.