What does Narendra Modi mean when he says that the Congress waived off loans worth only Rs 60,000 crore, while the promise was to forego Rs 6 lakh crore.
Public memory is short, but politicians’ seems to be shorter. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi compared farm loan waivers by the Congress with “lollipops,” he seems to have forgotten the lollipops his government and cronies have been selling for years.
“Congress overturned the governments in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, but farmers are already facing the brunt of it as they have to stand in long queues to get urea. Even in Karnataka, Congress made a backstage entry and established a government there. They gave lollipops to people in terms of assurances and promised a loan waiver but only 800 people got their loan waived. How can you trust these lollipop companies?” he said at Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh.
If waiver worth Rs 60,000 crore was a lollipop, would 10 lollipops have been the cure for farmers’ distress?
The next day, in Himachal Pradesh, the Prime Minister said the Congress came to power at the Centre in 2009 by foregoing loans worth only Rs 60,000 crore though it had promised to write off an amount of Rs 6 lakh crore.
One doesn’t get a clear idea as to what does Modi and his party stand for. Are they against farm loan remissions? They are right when they say that such measures are mere lollipops. But then why did they begin this mess in the first place? For it is a well-known fact that they had pledged waiver in the run-up to the UP Assembly polls last year. The Yogi Adityanath government in the state redeemed the pledge and wrote off Rs 36,000-crore debts. This not only had a severe impact on the state fiscal but also set off a chain reaction, leading to several states following suit. Almost Rs 2 lakh crore has been lost because of this deleterious populism.
Or is it that the Modi regime has now woken up late to the danger of such populism? Was there nobody in the ruling dispensation to dissuade the decision makers embark upon this perilous journey? That’s not correct, for the fact is that Arvind Subramanian in April 2017, in his capacity as chief economic adviser at that time, had warned against this move. “We’ve had a spate of announcements recently about agricultural loans being waived off. You know these could cost, if it were to spread, these could cost something like 2 percent of GDP, adding to the deficit,” Subramanian had said.
Further, even now there is either lack of clarity on the subject or, what seems more likely, equivocation. What does the Prime Minister mean when he says that the Congress waived off loans worth only Rs 60,000 crore, while the promise was to forego Rs 6 lakh crore. If waiver worth Rs 60,000 crore was a lollipop, would 10 lollipops have been the cure for farmers’ distress? What is the purpose of this rhetoric? To fool people?
It is quite evident that the BJP and the Congress agree with each other the people of India are idiots, not 90 percent but all of them.
A few years ago, former Press Council of India chairman Justice Markandey Katju (Retd) had said that 90 percent of Indians are “idiots.” Our politicians, however, seem to believe that all Indians are fools or at least can be fooled easily. It’s not just the saffron party that is trying to fool people; the grand old party is no better. Consider senior Congress leader and former home minister P. Chidambaram’s reaction to the Modi regime’s authorization to 10 Central agencies to snoop. Chidambaram said that an “Orwellian state is around the corner.”
Here is a guy who played a key role in introducing the draconian Section 66A (later invalidated by the Supreme Court), who used to bully the media—and he is worried about repression and erosion of civil liberties!
It is quite evident that the BJP and the Congress agree with each other the people of India are idiots, not 90 percent but all of them. Lincoln said that you can’t fool all the people all the time. But you can surely do that to fools. Or that’s what our political masters believe.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.