THE POLITICS OF FUEL PRICES

about 19 days ago
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Oh, how we wish there were major elections every year!

The Union Govt, gift-wrapping it as “Diwali gift” reduced excise duty on petrol by Rs.5/litre and that on diesel by Rs.10/litre. And as if on cue, 22 States and Union Territories, majority of them governed by the BJP, Janata Party or its allies, reduced taxes on fuel too. We all have been crying ourselves hoarse, analysts and economists have gone hoarse, trying to tell the Govt to reduce taxes so that inflation does not make life difficult to live. But that fell on deaf ears as there was really no political mileage to be gained. Common man suffers – that’s all ok till elections come calling; its only when they need votes that suddenly the plight of the common man comes to the fore.

Using fuel for gaining political mileage is an old tactic; its not just the BJP but even the Congress has done it – the only difference is that BJP has been very blatant about it. Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday said the reduction in excise duty on petrol and diesel is a “very sensitive decision” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and it will not only bring relief to the common man but also reduce inflation. Really? It took him to say all this so long? Suddenly they can see inflation and the cost a man on the street has to pay for basic essentials; that’s why we say that elections are good!

Travel anywhere around the country today, major cities, almost every road is dug up, new bridges are being built at a frenzy, monorail and metro projects which were stuck in a quagmire of red tape, suddenly get all approvals. Yes, today, we ate stuck in incessant traffic jams causing tremendous amounts of inconvenience but be thankful to the polls ahead – at least we will get some roads and bridges before the elections.

People know that this is the time when all their woes could actually get resolved and politicians might really listen to their problems. So, to get that water line fixed, the street lights work done, to get a park for children – this might be the best time to visit your local politician and he will take up your issue with a zeal and enthusiasm akin to fighting for freedom.

Elections are good for the economy in general – apart from the infra build up, it brings out all the black money collected by politicians to fund their various rallies and freebies. This is a time for others, the supply chain of these politicians to make money. Newspapers and the entire digital and electronic media will make the maximum money now through the various advertising campaigns.

When we see the frenzy of road building and major stalled projects taking off, it does make us wonder whether it would be a good idea to have elections every four years? It will make the political party more accountable as they have to work at least from the third year and it would also mean more frequent airing of the black money in the system.

What say?

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