Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been steadfast in taking strong measures to boost the country’s economy. He once stated that his solutions are like bitter medicine that might be unpleasant to consume but have a positive impact on the overall health. The impact of PM’s statements is becoming evident, especially as the world economy faced downturns post the COVID era, while India emerged as the fifth-largest economy globally, showing better development.
The recent announcement by the central government to provide a subsidy of 200 rupees per gas cylinder to consumers marks a significant move. This decision raises questions about whether the government is relying on populist announcements to win elections. It also raises doubts about the consistency of the government’s stance on ‘freebies,’ which the PM previously compared to a medicine that might initially taste bitter but benefits health in the long run. Is the government now embracing the same approach it criticized earlier, simply to garner votes? Is this indicative of the opposition’s pressure gaining influence, as they claim?
Inflation Emerges as a Key Election Issue
In a recent survey, participants were asked about the most crucial issue they consider in the upcoming elections. A resounding 72% responded that inflation will be the most significant concern. This suggests that rising prices are causing distress among consumers and could become a central election issue. In response, the government has attempted to provide relief to the public to weaken the impact of this issue.
Influence from Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka
During the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, the Congress party highlighted the issue of freebies. It promised reduced gas cylinder prices, unemployment allowances, and benefits for women through various schemes. It is believed that the Congress party benefitted from these promises, leading to its victory. Inspired by this success, Congress is making similar promises ahead of the upcoming assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh. Their commitments include selling gas cylinders at 500 rupees and providing monthly financial assistance of 1500 rupees to women.
The BJP has acknowledged these announcements and seems to be following a similar path. To counter the Congress party’s promises, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced gas cylinder prices of 450 rupees and increased financial aid to female beneficiaries up to 3000 rupees in Madhya Pradesh. The BJP’s strategy aims to nullify the impact of the opposition’s freebies.
The Central Government’s Similar Strategy
Political analyst Dheerendra Kumar pointed out that the central government is also adopting a similar path. The government’s decision to reduce gas cylinder prices is a step in the same direction. There are discussions about potentially increasing the annual financial assistance provided to farmers. If this materializes, it could be interpreted as the central government succumbing to the pressure of opposition parties’ populist promises. While it’s debated whether the Modi government is indeed bowing to opposition pressure, the answer might only become clear with time.