STIMULUS … Put money into bank accounts of poor, your ‘stimulus’ will not help; Rahul tells PM

NEW DELHI: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Saturday that big talks about stimulus package by the Union Government did not mean much. What is needed is to get money into the hands of the farmers and the poor in the country through direct payment to their bank accounts, he said in a chat with the media aired through regional TV channels.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package for the nation to boost the ailing economy hit hard by the Covid-linked lockdown, and also said this amounted to some 10 per cent of the GDP. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman elaborated on this over TV in two days this past week, and gave details of the money earmarked for each segments, including to farmers, migrant labour, street vendors as also hefty sums for Small and Medium Enterprises.

However, there is pessimism as to how this will turn out to be. This is in view of the kind of stonewalling being done by India’s government functionaries as also bank officials, who take vicarious pleasure in denying – and not facilitating – the reach of benefits to the needy millions. Fears are that much of the earmarked money would not be disbursed because of this obstructionist tactics. Fears are also that politicians or people’s representatives at all levels with eat away much of the benefits.  

There is total chaos at the level of government functioning in India today, starting mostly with the period of the UPA when Sonia Gandhi did the back-seat driving and Dr Manmohan Singh blinked his way through the mayhem. Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, saying he would change things for the better and check corruption, but the scenario has become worse in a progressive drift from old rules and systems. 

Today, most bureaucrats (Indian Arrogance Service, IAS), other officials and most people’s representatives, as also political leaders at all levels are corrupt. By all accounts so far, Narendra Modi by himself is not corrupt, but many ministers in his cabinet too are known to be hugely corrupt. The PM could do little about this, also considering the ministers’ clout with entities like the RSS. 

The PM is  aware, as he should, that the graph of corruption is going up while he is at the helm of affairs. He either does not have the will to act, or the ability to confront such issues.

Under the circumstances, Rahul Gandhi’s proposal to reach benefits directly into the accounts. of the farmers and other intended groups is significant. It must also be stressed here that it was Narendra Modi as PM in his first term, who started the bank account scheme for the poor and BPL families across the country, and reached benefits of subsidy to their bank accounts directly, for the first time in India’s history. The scheme is known as Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana. 

Corruption, per se, is not limited to the Congress party, as had been the case in the long past. Regional parties run by stalwarts as family property are hugely corrupt. The Communists, who once had a relatively clean image, are hugely corrupt in Kerala now, the only state where they hold power. The CPI as an entity, which shares power with the CPIM, has, in sum, a one-point programme — making money through means fair and foul. Their leaders whizz past streets in luxury cars. With a few exceptions, most of its leaders are corrupt; and this is increasingly true of the CPIM too, as per reports from across the state. 

The less said the better about the DMK-AIADMK, the Chandrababu Naidus, the Jagan Mohan Reddys, the Thackerays in Mumbai, the Pawar enterprise, the politicos in Uttar Pradesh and Bhiar who labelled themselves as leaders of OBCs and Dalits, etc. All of them who came into politics with modest means are now sitting plum of huge and wealthy empires of their own making. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s recorded wealth, as he declared recently, is of the order of around Rs 130crore; which might as well be an underestimate, as actual worth of real estate is three to four time higher than official estimates on record. — IHN-NN


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