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Final fantasy: Rajasthan govt trotting out populist schemes to bag voters

DNA   |  Dec 10, 2012, 04:52AM IST
Jaipur: The Congress government completes four years on December 13, entering what in popular parlance is known as “the election year”. Bereft of any vision and to counter anti-incumbency, ruling parties of the day use this period to unleash big schemes, new infrastructure projects, dole out liberal largesse, go on inauguration sprees and lay foundation stones.
 
Gehlot government is not expected to be any different. After all, it has to make up for allegations of being ineffective in the first two years and courting scandals and scams in the last two. 
 
From the events of the last one month, one gets the sense that the government has already started using the same old tricks to boost its image. First, it announced the decision of regularising all illegal constructions and unauthorised colonies including those set up on encroached government land. 
 
A couple of days ago, the government further decided to reduce the facility area from a ratio of 60:40 to 70:30, in colonies set up before 1999. It didn’t stop there and relaxed the condition of 80% construction for regularising such colonies.
 
Only last month, targeting another vote bank and possible party spoilers, the government announced that state government employees can avail earned leave accumulated beyond 300. This leave used to get lapsed earlier. Of course, by no measure could these steps qualify as big bang announcements that one expects from a government in an election year.

However, the problem with Gehlot government is that most of its grandiose schemes have already been launched - whether it is distribution of free generic medicines, affordable housing for urban poor or free houses for rural BPL, public service guarantee act and right to hearing. 
 
The state government has also placed big hopes on the Central government’s decision of cash transfer of subsidy into beneficiary’s accounts. More announcements are in the offing for December 13, when the Gehlot government celebrates its fourth anniversary. The government is likely to announce formation of a youth board and also unveil a sports policy. 
 
However, more important proclamations like on recruitments, new projects and policy decisions have been put on hold till the budget. 
 
On the other hand, harsh decisions like power tariff hike are unlikely to be implemented. Although power companies have filed fresh petitions for an increase, energy minister Jitendra Singh has already announced that the government will not pass on the burden to consumers.
 
The question that remains is - would these last-ditch attempts be enough to negate an anti-incumbency? In the last one decade, the Indian voter has become more intelligent and demanding. He clearly sees through these last minute allurements as nothing but a desperate bid to cover up first four years of misrule. The voter now more clearly rewards those who provide better governance. Examples of such changed voting patterns are borne out by the reelection of governments in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, and Delhi.
 
No doubt, Gehlot has launched some good schemes but tardy implementation remains his Achilles’ heel. Will he survive the test?

 

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