The impact of poll reverses

The electoral defeat of the BJP in three Hindi States has set off a chain reaction. After the new Congress Governments announced loan waivers for farmers immediately on assumption of power, two BJP-ruled States have been forced to follow suit. Gujarat has decided to write off outstanding power bill of Rs. 650 crore in rural areas. This will benefit 6.22 lakh farmers. Assam has announced a farm loan waiver of Rs. 600 crore. The Centre has suddenly realized that it is unnecessary to insist on Aadhar connection for opening a bank account or getting a mobile phone connection. Aadhar is no longer necessary for getting these two facilities. But production of Aadhar card or any other identity proof is still mandatory for a genuine passenger travelling by rail or air. Maybe, the Government will gradually realize that identity proof is not necessary for travel.
Other unexpected and unbelievable things have also started happening. Kishore Tiwari, the BJP Kisan leader of Maharashtra and chairman of the government panel named “Vasantrao Nayak Rajya Swavalamban Mission” has demanded removal of Narrendra Modi from the office of the Prime Minister and replacing him with Nitin Gadkari. He has written to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat that if the BJP wants to win the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, then the removal of Modi from the PM’s post is necessary. These developments were unimaginable even a few days ago. But they are happening and are indicative of the churning that has started in the ruling party. Two constituents of the NDA have warned that the BJP cannot “take them for granted”. In Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is not singing the tune that the BJP expects him to.
As far as loan waiver is concerned, the BJP has a big problem. Two topmost debt-ridden States are ruled by the BJP. They are indebted not only to the Centre but have taken huge amounts of market loans, too. According to statistics given in the recent RBI publication titled State Finances: A Study of Budgets, UP has a debt burden of Rs. 3,85,000 crore, followed by Maharashtra with Rs. 3,61,400 crore. Mamata Banerjee’s West Bengal comes third with Rs. 3,14,700 crore. The RBI has warned that redemption of market loans will start from the current fiscal (2018-19) and peak in 2026-27, further straining the States’ resources. The BJP is facing a dilemma: to waive loans and deepen the crisis of the cash-strapped States or not to waive loans and face a hostile peasantry in the coming elections. Will the Prime Minister be able to produce the proverbial rabbit from his hat?

Thursday, 20 December, 2018