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A Short-lived Honeymoon?
|by K.S. Subramanian|
It has become customary for the Opposition to expect a new government to deliver within a few days of assuming power, whatever be the kind of situation in which the predecessor had left the economy. They see no need to show realism on this front. The Congress, with a bag of 44 seats and in no position to make a tenable claim to be LOP, has been frenetic on this because of the assembly polls scheduled in four states. They have been emboldened by the recent by-election results, though BJP tally is in no way insignificant. Neither is it an indication of the shift in popular mood as local factors do influence such results. The recent poll survey suggests that the Modi government still is ahead in ratings. Of course whether it will continue to stay there is bent on its performance.
To judge a government’s performance over 100 days is, according to reasonable pundits, a misguided move. Rightly so. The track sheet has to be seen in terms of the direction in which it is moving and so far positives outweigh the negatives. There is a departure in a sense that the Modi government has been proactive in policy decisions compared to its predecessor which had left quite a few in limbo.
First was the announcement of an SIT probe into black money which was a follow up to the apex court verdict and yet a significant move. Despite procedural hindrances it is making ground and has given its report of account holders identified to the Supreme Court. On its part the government has assured them that if they voluntarily disclosed the details they would not be treated as willful defaulters and could attract lesser penalty. Refunneling black money into the economy may go towards strengthening the coffers and also serve as a reserve for growth-oriented schemes. Such offers had been made before to no outcome but with black money being an integral part of the economy it may be one way to plug it.
To say that some initiatives such as raising the height of Sardar Sarovar dam in Gujarat or the Mullaperiyar dam in Tamil Nadu were politically motivated might be logical but nobody can deny that it will ease the power deficit in Maharashtra or help the water-scarce areas in neighbouring states. Yet environmental concerns are embedded in it, especially the number of people it would displace and accommodating their interests. Addressing these issues is also paramount but it is better to move ahead rather than remain in limbo in the name of holism.
Favourable to FDI
A large segment of the Opposition are known to be favourable to FDI in Insurance and Defence except the Left . The latter has fundamental objections to the private sector having a major say in the core areas despite the fact that their government in West Bengal was overeager to accommodate the Tatas and Jindal. The Mamata government has raised the compensation for farmers and made the clauses tougher in a Jindal project which has left it a non-starter till now. Much of the brainstorming on FDI is only on nuances though the Opposition is as keen on more foreign investment flowing in with India angling for a larger role in BRICS.
The recent allocation of One lakh crore for digital India is designed to bring services to the doorstep of the rural home and improve broadband connectivity. While polemics are on that clearance for the Nagpur metro project might be designed for the elections the same will not hold good for the other as it covers the entire country. Its benefits could percolate only over a period of time depending on the speed of implementation.
The Prime Minister Mr. Modi may not be off the mark while lampooning the Congress at the party meet that the government’s honeymoon period was far too short compared to its predecessor. As in cricket where the noise of appealing far outweighed its genuineness the Opposition is bent more on sound of fury than substance.
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