When politics in Maharashtra beats good governance | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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When politics in Maharashtra beats good governance

Mumbai city news: Sadly, none of the political parties and their leaders take a stand that the government should adopt long-term measures

mumbai Updated: Jul 18, 2017 10:16 IST
Shailesh Gaikwad
The Devendra Fadnavis-led government did not want to leave much room for criticism by the Opposition as it is likely to make the waiver a major poll plank whenever the elections are held.
The Devendra Fadnavis-led government did not want to leave much room for criticism by the Opposition as it is likely to make the waiver a major poll plank whenever the elections are held.(HT)

Last few weeks saw several populist decisions taken by the state and city governments. It began with the Rs34,000-crore farm loan waiver announced by the Maharashtra government.

Later, it changed the eligibility criteria for beneficiaries as farmers’ outfits and opposition parties put pressure on it. According to the new decision, farmers who have taken loan from 2009 will be eligible for getting their loans written off subject to the limit of Rs1.5 lakh.

Earlier, this benefit was applicable for farm loans taken till 2012. The decision, just like the original farm loam waiver, was a political one.

The Devendra Fadnavis-led government did not want to leave much room for criticism by the Opposition as it is likely to make the waiver a major poll plank whenever the elections are held.

Soon after this, the Shiv Sena-ruled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation passed a resolution to scrap property tax for the houses below 500 square feet size. Further, the owners of houses up to 700 square feet size will be given 60% concession in their property tax.

The Shiv Sena sought to justify the decision, saying it was fulfilling its election promise. The property tax being paid by individuals was not much though the collective revenue for the civic body from it was significant.

Last week, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis held a meeting of associations (mandals) that publicly celebrate Ganesh festival and dahi-handi on Krishna Janmastami and promised to get restrictions on them lifted.

The mandals — a majority of whom are headed by politicians or under the patronage of politicians — have been demanding that the noise pollution restrictions should be removed.

The dahi-handi mandals want the restrictions on the height of govindas (human pyramids) and participation of minors put by the Supreme Court to be eased. The Maharashtra government will now approach the Central government, seeking its help to get these restrictions relaxed.

While doing this, the government probably doesn’t want to consider the views of citizens, who are troubled by noise pollution caused by public celebration of

festivals.

The common factors in all the above decisions taken or being taken by the state and city governments is populism and political compulsion.

The rules or the norms in governance are framed for reasons, including protection of the larger interest of the public. Scrapping or diluting them could be counter-productive in the long run. But it seems our politicians prefer populism. They often cite political compulsion — If they don’t do, the opponents will.

There is an intense competition among them to win electoral battles. As such, if the Opposition takes out a march across the state demanding that farmers’ loans should be written off, the ruling parties go a step ahead and announce farm loan waiver. This happened earlier in 2008-09 and is now repeating.

Over the past two decades, the effect of populism and resultant indiscipline in handling finances is seen on the state’s economy. The debt on the state government has shot up to over Rs4 lakh crore. Following the latest farm loan waiver, the government is scrapping the bottom of the barrel to manage its expenditure.

It is planning to get money from chief minister’s relief fund. It has applied cuts to developmental schemes which will ultimately affect the same sections of the population for whom the populist decisions, such as the farm loan waiver, have been taken.

Sadly, none of the political parties and their leaders take a stand that the government should adopt long-term measures instead of temporary measures such as waivers to solve the problems of farmers, who are in distress.

Of course, most politicians have little credibility among the people, but even politicians who can openly tell the bitter truth are rare now.