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India: General Elections 2019

, April 10, 2019, 0 Comments

General Elections are round the corner. There is lot of uncertainty about the outcome of elections. Many opinion polls are predicting a BJP victory. Even the stock market is going up under the expectations of a BJP victory. But will the Congress Party with its allies come out with a surprise victory? The BJP has been more successful than the Congress in stitching together allies. Congress appears to be a failure as far as alliance formation is concerned.

The BJP released its manifesto yesterday. The Congress had done so much earlier. The BJP manifesto turned out to be old wine in a new bottle. The party seemed to be devoid of fresh ideas. The BJP manifesto, it appeared, had to offer very little by way of fresh initiatives. On the contrary the Congress Party manifesto was full of bold initiatives and programmes. The NYAY initiative offering cash transfers to the poor was a case in point. The party also declared that if it comes to power it will consolidate banks into about eight large ones. The Congress Party’s banking initiative which was built up on BJP’s ventures has taken up prospects of banking reforms a step further.

The opposition parties were trying to build up on BJP government’s failures. They highlighted the government’s failure on the employment front. They projected issues like farm distress and other failures of the Modi government. With such criticism of the government’s failure the united opposition seemed to be in a position strong enough to take on the BJP. Then came Phulwama and this seemed to have transformed the mood of the nation. The issue of national security seemed to be capable of out-staging all other issues and in this area the ruling party had an upper hand.

One of the attacks of the opposition parties was on how the BJP government was handling the statistical system of the country. The criticism was that the government was suppressing vital data relating to employment and all that which didn’t appear favourable to the government. The national income statistics was also being manipulated in a manner which suits the government propaganda. The statistical system in India which enjoyed a high international reputation was being discredited and high ranking officials who manned the statistical system had to submit their resignations.
Two major failures of the BJP government related to Demonetization and GST. Demonetization brought a lot of hardship to the public and failed to achieve its declared objectives. Both Demonetization and GST had a devastating impact on the medium and small scale sectors of the economy from which they have not yet been able to recover.

As regards Demonetization the very concept was flawed and it was a misguided advice that led to its implementation. GST, on the other hand, would have been a sensible policy to adopt but for its faulty implementation by the government. Now the Congress Party manifesto promises that, if brought to power, the party will introduce a single rate GST which is free from the drawbacks of the GST as it is currently being implemented.

The Congress party has promised that, if brought to power, it will abolish Niti Aayog and a new smaller Planning Commission will be set up in its place. The Niti Aayog has been a failure and failed to achieve anything significant. It unnecessarily interfered in the wrong areas like manipulation of statistics and even tried to manipulate GDP figures leading to discrediting of India’s well established statistical system. The Niti Aayog also prevented the release of statistical reports collected by the country’s statistical machinery because the findings of some of these reports were not favourable to the government’s stand point.

The electoral bonds scheme introduced by the government has been an effort to divert electoral funding into the coffers of the ruling party, it is being pointed out. Under the system there is no transparency and nobody knows who has made political contributions and to which party these contributions are going. It has been pointed out that under this non-transparent system of political funding the corporate sector gets ample opportunity to give donations to the ruling dispensation. The next government which comes to power should abolish the current system of electoral bonds.
The 2019 general elections are being keenly watched by observers, world over.

Both the Congress Party and BJP and putting up a brave fight. Both national parties are not likely to get a majority on their own. Government formation will be possible only with the support of allies. The Congress Party was far from successful in acquiring allies. But they expect that several parties which are not fighting with them at the election stage will later lend support to them when it comes to the question of government formation. The BJP, though falling short of real issues that concern the poor, expect that people’s perception of their party on national security issues will ultimately lead them to victory. It will be interesting to watch who finally wins and who loses.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of MarketExpress – India’s first Global Analysis & Sharing Platform or the organization(s) that the author represents in his personal capacity.