Well, today was another step in the ‘unravelling’ saga of the uncommon common man Arvind Kejriwal and his uncommon ‘common men’ party, the Aam Aadmi Party.
After presenting a budget that was not innovative enough to the promises he had made while he was asking for votes (apart from hiking budgetary allocation on education), his government today hiked the upper limit on the Value Added Tax (VAT) in Delhi by 10%.
That gives the Delhi government, led by Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party, flexibility to ‘manoeuvre”. Now, what will they ‘manoeuvre’, only they know. On its part, the government is saying the move is not about ‘price increase’.
Now who will buy it?
Except the AAP.
And there are reasons behind it.
In the run-up to the elections, the AAP announced many populist sops including free Wi-Fi, schools, hospitals, free water and low electricity tariff. The overall list is long and beyond scalable limits. Even Arvind Kejriwal admitted, after winning the absolute majority, that he was not looking at fulfilling ‘all the promises’ he had made.
Now, all that requires money and Kejriwal has already started the process, by subsidizing electricity and water. There are no innovative proposals to raise more money to fund these ‘populist measures’ but empty rhetoric like the one Manish Sisodia, the deputy chief minister, proposed today. His ‘common sense’ wisdom told us today that a common Delhiite was able to save some money (in thousands) thanks to his government’s anti-corruption efforts.
So, the ‘common’ Delhiites have more monetary resources to meet the ends now – with the AAP’s grace. That eases some of the burden of the populist promises. For others, some that the government wants to meet in light of the upcoming polls, with continuation of the most populist measures like subsidies of water and electricity, there are flexible ‘manoeuvrability’ measures like the one proposed today.
No one is buying the government’s arguments and reports have already started saying that prices are to set to increase after the AAP government hiked the upper limit of the VAT from 20% to 30%.
On the contrary, the first policy move of the government post ‘Swaraj’ budget is set to increase prices of cooking fuels and fuel oils. That will have a cascading effect on other items for sure – as another ‘common sense’ wisdom says.
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/