Sunday, November 25, 2012

Irresponsible: Politicking should not derail the economy in globally tough times

ET 31AUG2012

 The BJP is currently peddling three ideas, which have the potential to harm an already-emaciated economy. The first is mid-term polls. The second is that it is okay to paralyse Parliament. And, finally, it seeks cancellation of coal blocks allocated by the UPA government. All three propositions are devoid of rationality and need to be debunked. No Opposition party other than those in the BJP-led NDA favours disruption of Parliament. They say they would like a debate to take place in the House to hold the government to account. The logical extension is that they see little point in truncating the life of the present Lok Sabha and holding midterm elections. There are three strands to a plausible explanation for why the BJP has adopted a maximalist stand that it will accept nothing short of the Prime Minister’s resignation. To begin with, there is the need to capitalise on a hitherto-scarce Congress link to a scam. On top of this is the infighting within the BJP leadership, which makes prime ministerial aspirants compete in militancy to impress RSS arbiters and also sideline Narendra Modi, who will remain preoccupied with Gujarat till the November assembly elections. Finally, there is a faint hope that some UPA allies can be bamboozled by the threat of mid-term polls into withdrawing support for the UPA to prop up a new government or, at the least, force the government into defensive passivity, making it look unworthy in any case. Should this gambit fail, the BJP can always deign to respect parliamentary norms and move a vote of no-confidence. Pursuit of such an agenda at a time of global crisis and domestic economic weakness does not inspire confidence that the BJP cares for economic growth or people’s welfare.
As for cancelling coal mine allocation, there is no case whatsoever except in the case of those who have failed to meet contracted performance milestones or misrepresented facts. The policy of captive mining is flawed but that does not make allocations under it mala fide. If all decisions arising from policy subsequently understood to be flawed are to be cancelled, why spare all pre-1991 industrial licences and their successor businesses?