The Idea That Could Propel Modi Ahead
Narendra Modi going all-out to win the race for majority in the Lok Sabha and to be Prime Minister did not come out with any big idea to win voters so far, whereas with a surfeit of welfare schemes like the Food and the Land Bill, in addition to its many extant welfare schemes, the Congress has tried to win back the goodwill of voters. Its claim to be common man’s party was however, taken over completely by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). But the Congress, with its experience of nearly 65 years of political guile, moved fast enough to keep AAP from going too much ahead of it. AAP at the mercy of the Congress means that whatever seats it wins at the general elections will be for supporting Congress.
But at the huge rally of Baba Ramdev, Modi came up with an enticing idea—to abolish all direct and indirect taxes, both on individuals and corporations and replace it with a universal Bank Transaction Tax. Bank transactions currently accounting for just 20 per cent of the total actually tell you the size of the black economy. A two per cent transaction tax on this lot alone could yield more money than the maze of direct and indirect taxes put together. But, the embrace of this bold new idea needs to be just so, dramatically clear-cut. No timid tweaking and tinkering with the tax and exemption rates will be suffice. That will emasculate it and render it useless in electoral terms , says the economist Gautam Mukherjee, who was at the London School of Economics. “This has abolished the all-taxes proposal, being considered by the BJP at present, is brilliant in its simplicity and can at one stroke, reduce the black economy both substantially and voluntarily, provide a major fillip to business, industry and employment, reduce prices and inflation, boost GDP, encourage fresh investment from abroad, and encourage the trillions of dollars in black money stashed abroad to return on its own. It will also cut reams of red-tape, and necessitate the redeployment of armies of government employees into more productive functions. More and more economists in India are coming around to back this idea, and several have swiftly laid out very attractive illustrative scenarios on its efficacy going forward,” Mukehrjee said.
He added that America too was coincidentally looking at calls to abolish corporate taxes in order to stimulate industrial investment and consequent job generation. It also has a marginal tax rate of about 35 per cent for companies which with the availing of exemptions and incentives, can be brought down to 23 per cent or sometimes less, very much as in India. And Indian industry is falling behind every day because of lack of fresh investment, modernisation, and of course, the present recessionary conditions.
Akhilesh’s Best Effort To Sound Death-Knell Of SP
It seems Akhilesh Yadav, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, has driven the last nail in the political coffin of his government. It would also turn the dream of his father Mulayam Singh Yadav to be Prime Minister into a nightmare. Like the ages-old saying all was lost but for a nail, Akhilesh government allegedly spent Rs 3.26 crore on Saifai Mahostav while the Muzaffarnagar riot victims are shivering and suffering from bitter cold. Reportedly 34 children have died because of the lack of facilities to keep victims in refugee camps.
Huge amount of money—running into crores—was spent in flying out Bollywood Biggies, Salman, Madhuri and an assortment of other stars, and of course, their troupe and then in putting them up in posh places. Ironically, when Samajwadi Party spokesmen were asked how many times Akhilesh visited refugee camps, they did not respond. But he was personally present to receive Salman & Co as they emerged from their special aircraft. A large posse of security men kept onlookers away. The young Chief Minister shied from media people too.
The TV cameras were banned on the last day when the “Finale” concluded the Festival. But TV channels ran clips of the starry show on earlier days. They did give a glimpse of lesser, possibly, local dancers doing exotic thumkas. The entire Akhilesh’s family was at hand to look after the Biggies.
Surprisingly, no repentance has been expressed. The government goes on. To top it all, eight ministers and nine legislators have gone on a junket, wrapped as study tour to five countries. These eager to study delegation is led by Azam Khan who looked very sombre while going for boarding. He might have been thinking of refugees shivering in the bitter cold. As for the study aspect, the schedule of the first day in picturesque Istanbul read out on a TV channel showed the Hon’ble ministers and legislators visiting all the famous tourist destinations. Possibly they have opted for night classes.
The reality is that Akhilesh Yadav regime has failed. The political vacuum created with the fall of the BSP government in Uttar Pradesh is being filled by the BJP. Narendra Modi’s successful rallies across the state are a pointer to that. The Samajwadi Party is in a mess due to its own leaders and bureaucrats who have from time to time put the government in a tight spot with their statements. Besides, there are instances when senior leaders of the Samajwadi Party have themselves raised questions about governance and have given sermons to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to improve the situation. This has happened because of the failure of the state regime to deliver despite being in power for two years now. An astute politician like Mulayam Singh Yadav knows that this Lok Sabha election will be a do-or-die battle for the Samajwadi Party. The way the political mood is swinging in this crucial politically-sensitive state, it could be the last post for his political ambitions if people desert his party and opt for the BJP, which has emerged as the main contender.
But whom can he blame? Only himself and his son Akhilesh!
THE TWO HOPES OF CONGRESS
The Congress Party, read the Gandhis, is reportedly feeling a bit secure, after persuading Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to become a fence and halt Narendra Modi from sprinting to 7, Race Course. AAP is contesting at least 300 Lok Sabha seats and the Congress believes that given the public euphoria for AAP, albeit subtly, it would definitely help and there would be a fractured Lok Sabha. In such a situation, it would be very difficult for Modi to form a government.
The other hope of the Congress leadership reportedly is based on the belief that a couple of BJP leaders would sabotage Modi’s efforts to win enough seats to lead the new government. They are more opposed and dangerous than BJP’s rival parties. The Congress’ hope is that they would influence in Karnataka—although it might not work after Yeddyurappa returning to BJP—Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Haryana. But whether Shivraj Singh Chouhan can be lured by the carrot of prime ministership, now or later, depends on whether he would like to lose the title of supreme and undefeatable in his state.
AAP is now beginning to show weak spots and it might be unable to counter the tsunami to be unleashed by Modi-Ramdev combine. The Baba and the RSS have together reportedly prepared a three-crore-strong cadre. They are being given ten households to cover. BJP hopes to cover over half of the voting population before second week of April.