Monday, October 22, 2012

Kejriwal’s party looks even more Leftist than Mamata’s!

Kejriwal (the Joker in the political pack; henceforth abbreviated to just Joker) has positioned himself on the anti-corruption platform. Very little has emerged about his party’s economic priorities. But a few statements of his have emerged and what has come out so far indicates that he is yet another Left-of-Left politician. More anti-corporate than even Mamata; more anti-reform than even the BJP; in short more Leftist than the Left and Mamata put together!

Here’s a smattering of what has emerged:

Joker is against power tariff increases. In Delhi, he went so far as to organize a protest against the Delhi government’s recent increases in power, forgetting that power tariffs had not been increased for so many years. He in fact, made it a political issue by creating a drama around “restoring” power at the home of a power thief. He made some bizarre observation that power discoms are making enormous profits and alleged some sort of criminal conspiracy against Sheila Dixit personally (that she was not allowing discoms to lower tariffs). He chose to ignore the facts of the matter as usual; and of course demonstrated no understanding of how governments undertaken several programs, many of which need to be funded through “profits” (if any) from other programs. This indicates a clear preference for mindless socialism; and a disdain for even basic economics. I would have liked to hear Joker say what he would like to over-price so that things like power could be under-priced or subsidized. But that was not forthcoming. One gathers the impression that just like all Left parties, and more recently the BJP, Kejriwal wants prices to remain stuck in the past. How the government should reduce fiscal deficit then is a mystery. By cutting corruption I guess!

Joker was also asked a question on FDI in modern retail. Again, his answer was similar to the BJP’s. No. Why do we need FDI in retail is his question. He repeated the BJP’s half-truth about Walmart being driven out of New York. He chose to forget that Walmart in any case opens shops only outside main city areas and the Walmart Asia head has already clarified that Walmart is not quitting New York. But then just like truths don’t matter to the BJP these days, they don’t to Joker. The message one gets again is that he is opposing what is being seen by all sections of society – farmers and urban middle-class prominently – as a positive move. In his case, it’s a little unclear why he is opposing. In the BJP’s case, they are protective of the bania. What is Joker’s story apart of course, from opposing the Government in everything it does.

We have also heard Joker speak on land reforms. And his view appears to be even further Left than Mamata’s. Why should the state intervene in acquiring land for private projects or even infrastructure projects, he asks. But he fails to answer how the private sector or infrastructure companies are supposed to acquire land if a few people hold out. Land acquisition is never a happy thing, but without some sacrifices being made, how can the country progress? I would have liked to hear a more nuanced approach here. For example, favoring higher compensation to land owners, creating an insurance policy to better secure the future of those who land their land, providing employment to family members of those whose land is acquired etc. But no, Joker has only taken the standard “hobe na” line of Mamata!

Its easy for someone not in Government to take such populist stands. So one cannot single out Joker for this. But it would help if someone with the educational and learned background that he has changed the rules of the game and made positive statements about his vision for the country. That’s what the people want to know. What are his programs going to be. Who is his target audience? What will his industrial policy be? What are his views on taxation? How will he encourage exports? All this is needed to define a political party. When he was just a movement, he could remain focused on a narrow sliver of issues. But now that he wants to set up a party, he has no option but to formulate policies on larger issues. Otherwise, even if he comes to power (which he won’t), he will be booted out in no time. Remember what happened to the Janata Party government which came to power in 1977 on the single issue of the Congress’s imposition of emergency? It collapsed in less than two years.

This is one more reason I don’t like Joker. I never liked him for his low level personal attacks strategy. I never liked him for his smug “my Lokpal bill is the only good bill” attitude. Now I don’t like him for his highly monochromatic adoption of socialistic policies.

The real truth is that India needs more liberal policies; not socialistic ones. The time when India really came out in its own was after the 1991 reforms. We have far too many socialistic parties. In fact, we need to amendment the Constitution itself which warrants that every political party must believe in socialism. Further, what is apparent is that Joker has no team. Manish Sisodia is an unknown quantity. Prashant Bhushan is too busy fighting PILs to make anything in the name of policy. If anything, all of Joker’s strategy is about being anti-establishment. That’s the turf he relishes. Just as much as Mamata does. It’s a shame really. By not accepting a half-solution on Lokpal, Joker destroyed India’s chances of getting one. By not formulating his onw positive agenda, he will destroy’s India’s one chance of getting an alternative political entity….

No comments:

Post a Comment