Cynical politics

Manmohan Singh as the finance minister had once proudly stated on the floor of the Lok Sabha: “Good economics is also good politics”. However, Singh the prime minister has ceased to look at things from an economic perspective as he has got sucked deep into the world of cynical politics. It seems, winning elections is all that matters for him and his party now. Therefore, anything that has the potential to advance the cause of winning the next year’s parliamentary elections is worth doing.

How else does one explain this bolt from the blue – government’s decision to set up the Seventh Pay Commission for Central government employees and pensioners? It is nobody’s case that the next pay commission should not be constituted. But what was the hurry to announce it when, in the normal course, the next pay commission benefits are to be given only from January 1, 2016? It should have been left to the wisdom of the new government that will come into office after the general elections next April-May. 

Even before this there wasn’t much to doubt about the government’s less-than-honest commitment to pursue prudent economic and fiscal policies to cut fiscal and current account deficits, contain inflation, revive economic growth and, thus, help restore the health of the nation’s economy. Also, as Singh himself had recently accepted, part of the reason why the rupee has lost against the dollar in recent months is due to inflation. In this crisis situation  there can be no room for fiscal profligacy on the economic front. But in its single-minded pursuit of votes, the government has obviously no use for prudent policies.

How can any responsible government make an advance expenditure commitment of huge proportions when it is in the midst of alarming growth slide and falling revenue? Announcing a pay commission precisely amounts to that. Worst still, Ajay Maken, a spokesman of the ruling Congress, wasted no time in taking credit for the decision, claiming that the government had done a great service to over 80 lakh Central government employees with its decision. It is no secret that the party believes that this announcement will win a few seats for it in the November Assembly elections in the national capital, which has a large number of Central government employees. Anything for a few crumbs of votes? 

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