Electoral Reverses Should Convince  Union Government For Being More Responsive to Real Needs and Feelings of People

Election Rally Amit Shah
Union home minister and senior BJP leader Amit Shah during a road show for party candidates in Islampur, April 13, 2021. Photo: Twitter/@AmitShah/PTI

The BJP has recently suffered serious reverses in state assembly elections in W.Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and what may even more worrying for its leadership, even in critical segments of the rural decentralization or panchayati elections in its strongholds of Uttar Pradesh. This is further confirmation, if such confirmation was needed, that several recent decisions of the government have not gone well even with those people who had supported the BJP earlier. It is not just specific decisions but also the style of governance as reflected in obstinacy in persisting with some decisions disliked and criticized by people which is adding to more and more people moving away from their support to the ruling regime.

Hence this may be just the  right time for the union government to change some of these unpopular and harmful decisions, and thereby signal a refreshing new beginning of being more responsive to the real needs and feelings of people.

The government can make a very good beginning in this direction by accepting the main and long-standing demand of the farmers’ movement for repealing the three controversial farm laws. Apart from the fact that the laws are harmful and unpopular and should never have been passed in such a hurried and contentious way in pandemic times, there is now the additional reason that a peaceful dispersal of the gathering of farmers on a note of satisfaction will be very good for the country and for protecting health of many people in pandemic times.

Secondly, in times of scarcity of resources for meeting urgent needs of people, the government can  give evidence of its commitment to meeting the real needs of people by  cancelling several  highly wasteful and even harmful projects it is implementing at present, thereby saving massive amounts of money and avoiding many serious risks and harms as well. A good beginning can be made by cancelling the highly controversial Central Vista project, followed by some of the highly contentious dam, river-link and highway projects, particularly projects which involve a lot of destruction of forests and trees, displacement of people and  longer-term safety risks. In the process  not only will massive financial resources  be saved but in addition the highly unjust death/slaughter sentence hanging on millions of condemned green trees will be lifted and these trees will be spared and left free to make their great contribution to environment, humanity and all forms of life. In addition many high risks to safety will be avoided, as some of these projects are also a safety hazard.

One way of going ahead is to draw up a list of about 10  such projects and announce their cancellation immediately on the basis of the facts and the evidence already available. Depending on the projects selected for cancellation , this may easily involve a saving of 1.5 lakh crore Rs. over the period of the next decade or so. The amount may well be much more than this. The government can then calculate how much it will save on annual basis from this for the next few years, and allocate this as an additional sum, over and above the normal budget, for the most important welfare tasks of people.

Bharat Dogra is a journalist and author . His recent books include Man Over Machine ( Gandhian ideas for our times) and When the Two Streams Met ( Freedom Movement ).




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