5 Reasons BJP MPs Should Be Fasting.
BJP MPs want to observe fast to protest Parliament logjam. Here are 5 better reasons to do it.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday accused the opposition of divisive politics and announced that BJP MPs will observe a fast on April 12 to protest the impasse in Parliament. At a BJP parliamentary party meeting, the PM reportedly said that the ruling party was doing inclusive politics while the opposition was being divisive. But even a cursory examination of the Modi government’s recent track record shows the story is quite different. If BJP MPs do want to observe a fast, here are five better reasons to do it:
1. Failure of flagship programmes:
India’s flagship government initiatives have barely spent any of the money allocated to them, a parliamentary committee has reported, raising questions about the on-the-ground implementation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s most high profile national programs. A parliamentary standing committee on urban development report said Modi’s six top infrastructure initiatives spent on average just 21%, or $1.2 billion, of the $5.6 billion allocated. The Smart Cities plan used just 1.8% of the funds released to it, or just $28 million of the $1.5 billion that was allotted. Other programs to build affordable housing, as well as sewage and drainage facilities, used less than 30 percent of the available funds, the report said.
The Demonetisation and GST misadventures:
The economy, struggling to get back on its feet after a bumpy roll-out of the Goods and Sales Tax, recovered only slightly in the October-December quarter to grow at 7.2 percent, still below the peak of more than 9 percent clocked between 2005 and 2008. Demonetisation led to a fall in labour participation – the number of people either employed or actively looking for work – to 41-42 percent of the labour pool after demonetisation from around 47 percent before.
Just as the negative effects of the demonetization was showing signs of abating by the time 2017-18 began, the goods and services tax (GST) shocked the economy and businesses, leading to a crash in the gross domestic product (GDP) growth to a three-year low of 5.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2017-18. It was largely because of pre-GST jitters and lingering effects of demonetisation. Even today cash supply continues to be erratic in several states, according to banking experts. Meanwhile, consumer confidence fell in the first quarter of 2018, a survey conducted by the RBI said Thursday.
The Current Situation Index (CSI), which is compiled on the basis of net responses on the economic situation, income, spending, employment and the price level for the current period, fell from 96.9 in December 2017 to 95.1 in March 2018. The CSI had begun dipping after demonetisation in November 2016. Any score below 100 on the CSI is treated as being in the zone of pessimism. There is an across-the-board agreement that the note ban’s objective was to curb corruption, fight black money, and terrorism and it failed to achieve even a single objective. Even today, experts say the extent of the damage to the unorganised sector and the rural economy is yet to be compiled.
The Agrarian Crisis:
New data released by the government on rural wages, crop prices and sowing of winter crops reveals that rural distress is worsening. Planting of wheat, the main winter crop, between October and early January was 5% lower than a year ago. Similarly, data on nominal rural wages, a bellwether for rural demand, is showing sluggish growth and crop prices continue to be a point of concern for farmers. Several states, including Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Haryana, have seen farmer protests to press for remunerative prices for farm produce and loan waivers, following a collapse in prices of most pulse varieties and oilseeds such as soybean.
GDP advance estimates released on January 5 showed that farm growth rate is estimated to plummet to 2.1% in 2017-18. This implies a dismal 1.9% average agriculture growth rate in the first four years of the Modi government.
The failure to create jobs:
One of the promises Narendra Modi made before sweeping to power in 2014 was that his government would create millions of jobs. But his failure to fulfill this promise might cost him the 2019 elections, according to many political analysts.
The unemployment rate in India, nearly two-thirds of whose 1.3 billion people are under 35 years old, hit its highest level in 16 months in March at 6.23%, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), an independent think-tank. The difficulty in getting a reasonable job is so great that more than 25 million people applied for less than 90,000 positions recently advertised by the state-run railways. Every year, 10-12 million people join the labour force, and five million people leave agriculture to join the non-agriculture sectors. There is a total demand of 17- 20 million new jobs per annum.
The internal security failures:
While Modi’s ill-conceived economic measures have led to different forms of unrest, his government has also failed to address several key internal security bottlenecks. The country has emerged as the third most vulnerable in the world in terms of risk of cyber threats, such as malware, spam and ransomware, in 2017, moving up one place over previous year, according to a report by security solutions provider Symantec. Left-wing Extremism (LWE), spread in eight states, is now targeting newer states and trying to carve out a base on the junction of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the Parliamentary Committee on Estimates said on Monday.
While there was decline in violence in the LWE-affected states, after deployment of security forces was increased, the LWE militants’ entry in the three new southern states was “disturbing”, the committee has said. So far, left wing extremists have been known to be active in the Naxal-affected states like Chhattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Telangana. Only on 13 March, nine CRPF personnel were killed when their vehicle was blown up by Naxals in Chhatisgarh’s Sukma district.