Conservative vs Liberal vs Progressive, Right-wing vs Left-wing vs Centrist, Capitalist vs Socialist vs Communist; these were ideological categories that meant something to political parties and social intellects. The average voter may never have heard these words, but they instinctively knew which of these ideologies, each of the parties stood for, just like a domestic cat or a wild rabbit knows which wild animal is a predator or prey, even though it may have never seen one before.
Taking a page from the animal farm, let me describe whats happening in Maharastra using animals. The feline species of the Lions and the tigers had an alliance for many years as did the canine species of wolves and the foxes.
The lions ruled for many years, but the once fierce and deadly hunters’, overtime grew large and fat. They assume that their roar is enough to scare the other animals of the jungle and stay in power. But after the Maha election, the lions lost ground and now the Tiger wanted to be the leader of the pack. But the lion didn’t want to give up its top position. So the tiger approached the canines. While they were negotiating the terms of not killing each other and surviving in the jungle, (and dividing the helpless fleshy prey among themselves), one cunning fox approached the lions to support them to form the government. But foxes are cunning. The lions were tricked. The Tiger was sown in as the CM while his tiger clan, wolves and foxes celebrated.
It’s impossible to picture this scene and believe that nothing can go wrong for the next five years. Yes, the liberals are celebrating it as a victory against the BJP but is it?
Political ideology is not jargon for the intellectuals. It’s as real as the words herbivorous, scavengers, carnivores, and omnivores. Ideology determines which income group will benefit the most, who will be taxed the least, which historic figure will be taught in school; whether Rs 3000 Crore will be used for the “world’s tallest Statue” of Shivaji or will it be used to build the “world’s biggest University” named after Chatrapathi Shivaji, and whether the statue or the university will be operated by the government or a private corporate.
In the best-case scenario, one party keeps the other in check, just like CPI/CPM kept the UPA in check when dealing with the anti-socialists USA. The worst-case scenario is that consensus takes a lot of time and nothing gets done. There there is a case, wherein, in order to keep everyone happy, everything gets done but in smaller quantities. For example, Shivaji statue will be built for Rs 1500 and the remaining used for the Shivaji University.
But we don’t live in an ideal situation. The newly formed alliance of tigers, wolves and foxes are hungry and they will grab every prey they find. This government will be far from corruption-free. Can you imagine this alliance running a corruption-free government? They’ve been starved for funds, thanks to the raids on their leaders, and donors. The corporates are either broke, afraid or both. In short, if the voters think they will have a bright future, the sad reality is that they won’t.
The alliance has promised that they will implement 80% reservation for locals. Assuming that these include private jobs, this policy is not just unconstitutional but detrimental to the economy. The Goa Government tried that three decades ago, but it failed. A newly formed regional party and some rage entrepreneurs have reignited the ashes in hopes for a few ounces of political mileage.
The fact is that private-sector jobs are demand-driven. If a state cannot provide skilled labour to meet the demands of the company, either they will import labour from other states or move to the state that has the supply. The corollary is that to meet the demand of the workforce, instead of reservation, the government should invest in its training institutions so that they can dynamically and rapidly adapt to meet the demands of the private sector. The 80% local Reservation will do nothing but repel investors and discourage entrepreneurs.
The BJP is the undisputed king of public infrastructure investments; a bankrupt king today but a king nonetheless. The Congress implemented some of the best welfare policies that got millions out of poverty. But we are living in a dystopian world, where populism trumps carefully planned and executed policies. While the BJP went on a hyper development spree, the new alliance is heading towards a hyper welfare spending spree. Look at the common minimum program of the Uddav Thackeray-led alliance for farmers, and point of the one which was not implemented earlier. Then point out the one which didn’t fail or fizzle out.
You won’t find any. These are just stale wine in new bottles.
Maharastra has too many problems and they could not be solved by a Fadnavis, “Peshwa” government or the present “Maratha Confederacy” government. Just like in the past, these empires will collapse under the onslaught of modern East India Companies (Corporate oligarchs who rule from Dalal street).
If Maharastra wants to protect its “Maratha” identity through political rhetoric, then it’s better off tearing the Consitution and splitting from India. If they want to progress, within the ambit of the Consitution of India, without splitting into smaller states, then the State needs urgent reforms in land, education, labour, industry and urban planning. And most importantly, it needs to decentralise administration and devolve financial and administrative power to the local bodies.
The pertinent question then is, will the tigers, wolves and foxes work together to make the jungle a paradise or will they fight over the dwindling prey in the jungle?