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Similar Promises

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The joke making the round these days is how AAP Convenor Arvind Kejriwal, before the Punjab elections, had described his party’s plan to pay for all the exorbitant poll promises by ending corruption and providing good governance. Immediately after taking over, AAP’s Punjab CM Bhagwant wasted no time in rushing to Delhi and meeting PM Modi to ask for a two-year package of Rs 1 lakh crore. (Which if provided would be used to claim good governance to win seats in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections!)

So, did the people of Punjab get taken in by such promises? Not really! Similar ones were made in Uttarakhand but AAP could not win a single seat. It is important to understand the real factors behind AAP’s rise to power in Punjab.

The same goes for the BJP’s victory in Uttarakhand. If Chief Minister PS Dhami believes that the promise to implement a Uniform Civil Code made a difference, he should know better. It is as incorrect as the Congress claiming it lost because of the Muslim University issue. Over the top promises may be used as a smokescreen to divert attention from uncomfortable real issues, but those making them should not themselves be deceived. Being ‘sincere’ and trying to implement them, instead of working on good governance and the really difficult tasks, is not just a waste of time and effort, but also of scarce monetary resources.

According to Kejriwal’s estimate, his promises would require an extra Rs 50,000 crores per year. It will be interesting to see what CM Mann can actually deliver. In Uttarakhand’s case, setting up a ‘committee’ to consider how the UCC would be implemented will by no means cost as much, but the public exchequer will still be burdened to pay for the ex-judges and ex-officials who will receive sinecures for, very probably, two years – the average time for delivery of reports in such cases.

There are far more matters of priority that require the new government’s attention. It may seem unglamorous and tedious to work on them, when credit can be taken for more high profile issues, but the hard truth is that elections are being won increasingly on the basis of grassroots delivery. Dhami should also be careful that the UCC issue does not become an albatross around his neck, as the Devasthanom Board did for predecessor Trivendra Singh Rawat.