The state budget presented in the Assembly on Thursday is indicative of two things — one, the Democratic Front government is not making an attempt to woo voters for the forthcoming state elections, and two, it seems to have given up the race to the BJP-Shiv Sena combine which thrashed the Congress-NCP alliance in the Lok Sabha elections in May.
The fatalism demonstrated by the state cabinet was absent in only a few schemes announced in the budget — that of the R660 crore reserved for some populist schemes. But even that was opposed by the finance department bureaucrats who felt that this was an extravagance that a bankrupt state can ill-afford. Nevertheless, the state cabinet bullied the finance department and went ahead with its schemes.
Both the approaches to the budget — an ‘I give up’ attitude and the ‘No reforms because we are going to lose anyway’ message — are wrong and could backfire on the Congress-NCP alliance in the long run.
What the state needs is a pragmatic commerce policy that would have revived jobs in the manufacturing and services sector, and a farm rejuvenation policy that would have re-ignited the sector, especially in the rain-and drought-affected areas such as Vidarbha and other parts of eastern and southern Maharashtra. Both these were not difficult to achieve as the state is already a leader in these sectors. What we needed was just a boost, and even that the government has not been able to provide.
It is as if the state cabinet has realised that no matter what they do, the so-called ‘Modi Wave’ is going to take them down in the assembly polls. This is certainly not how a government should function.
Among other things, the state has also ignored Mumbai. The city, in the throes of an infrastructure lull, needed a boost, too. However, the finance ministry seems to have forgotten the city completely.
It is as if the Democratic Front has decided to give the Sena-BJP alliance the power on a platter.