Structural reforms will continue and in rapid pace, says finance minister
GN Staff | November 9, 2015
Trying to rise above petty politics and showing others that country comes first, finance minister Arun Jaitley today said it will not impact the economic reforms process.
"I don't see it as a setback to the economy... structural reforms will continue. They should continue at a rapid pace," he said on Monday even as politicians from all most all parties showed some kind of spine to attack the government.
About reforms, Jaitley said government would continue them by taking executive actions and also in the Budget, which would be announced in February next year.
On the specific question of the pending Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill, he hoped that Bihar, which is a consuming state, would support the legislation.
"I don't see (Bihar election outcome) as a setback to the economy at all. If under Nitish Kumar, Bihar grows and grows well, we have already announced economic package for the state, certainly we are going to help.
"Our commitment is the states which need to develop more we have to help them more," Jaitley said.
On political front, he admitted that some irresponsible statements by certain BJP functionaries during the course of elections did change the narrative. Jaitley said the "index of opposition unity" was one of the biggest factors that led to the victory of the Mahagathbandhan in the Bihar assembly elections.
While the ruling NDA managed to get 58 seats (BJP 53) in the 243-member Bihar assembly, Mahagathbandhan got 178 seats Lalu’s RJD got 80 and Nitish Kumar’s JDU got 71 seats).
Meanwhile, BJP chief Amit Shah this morning met Mohan Bhagwat, the chief of the ruling party's ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
The meeting took place as a section of the BJP openly blamed the Bihar debacle on the RSS chief's remarks questioning reservation for backward castes.
BJP parliamentarian Hukumdev Narayan Yadav had said Bhagwat's statement alarmed voters in Bihar, a state where caste impacts politics and society.
"Mohan Bhagwat's comment at this time, it filled the backward castes and Dalits with a sense of mistrust for the BJP. The RSS chief's comment really shook up things in Bihar. In Bihar, people gave struggled more against caste discrimination and social exploitation,"
Actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha, who is among the most vocal in-house critics of the BJP, needled his party in a series of tweets praising Nitish Kumar and also told NDTV: "Punish those who led the BJP to defeat in Bihar."
In tweets, the lawmaker from Patna Sahib said, "It appears the issue of Bihari vs Bahari (and Bihari Babu's absence) has been settled once and for all" and "wishing great luck to our victorious friends and appealing for introspection to our people. The writing was always on the wall."
Today, Sinha has arranged to meet Nitish Kumar even though his tweets were more conciliatory.
The Bihar results turn interesting if one looks at the numbers.
The vote share tilted a little and sealed the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) fate. A 7.8 per cent more votes for Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD and Rahul Gandhi’s Congress alliance over BJP-led NDA’s tally fetched it another 120 seats catapulting the Mahagatbandhan to a landslide two-third majority.
Nitish Kumar-led grand aliance with 41.9 per cent votes got 178 seats in a House of 243 while the NDA with 34.1 per cent votes could get only 58 seats, final election data tonight showed.
Lalu Prasad’s RJD with 18.4 per cent votes bagged 80 seats to emerge as the single largest party while Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) garnered 16.8 per cent votes to notch 71 seats. They both contested 101 seats.
Congress, the third partner in the alliance, fared creditably winning 27 of the 41 seats it contested. It polled 6.7 per cent votes.
The BJP, which contested 157 seats, polled the highest number of votes (24.4) but could bag only 53 seats.
BJP’s NDA allies — the Lok Jan Shakti Party and the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) — could manage only two seats and one seat respectively, polling 4.8 per cent votes and 2.3 per cent votes. They contested 42 seats and 21 seats respectively.
The JD(U) in 2010 had bagged 115 out of the 141 seats it contested with a vote share of 38.77 per cent votes. BJP had bagged 91 of the 102 seats and its vote share was the highest at 39.56 per cent votes.
The RJD, which was trounced, could manage only 22 out of the 168 seats it contested against the JD(U)-BJP coalition and had a vote share of 18.84 per cent.
The Congress won only 4 of the 243 seats it contested and had a vote share of 8.37 per cent.
The Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, NCP and the AIMIM, which contested the Bihar assembly polls, have failed to make an impact with their vote share getting restricted to 2 per cent or below. This is less than those voters hit the ‘none of the above’ button (2.5 per cent).
BSP, which contested all the 243 seats, managed 2.1 per cent of the total votes polled.
BSP had decided to go it alone in Bihar unlike arch rival Samajwadi Party which first became a part of the ‘grand alliance’ but later joined hands with NCP to form a ‘third front’ which too could not last long.
Samajwadi Party had contested 85 seats in Bihar and its share was one per cent.
The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), which contested in six seats mainly in the Muslim-dominated Seemanchal region, drew a blank and managed 0.2 per cent of the total votes polled.
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This piece is based on a previous article by the authors published in Geoforum [Elsevier] in May 2019: available online: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/ S0016718519300764?via%3Dihub
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