M K Tayal
As the BJP is going to the Himachal polls without announcing the CM candidate, the main players are wondering how hard to plug in and where. Though Prem Kumar Dhumal or JP Nadda are much talked about CM faces, the party is playing it safe.
With election surveys tilting in the BJP’s favour, the party bigwigs are elated and see it as the saffron surge. Though, people in Himachal Pradesh have preferred changing governments and in this rotation the BJP would have gained anyway, party managers are putting this as another feather in Modi’s cap.
Regarding selection of Chief Ministerial candidate, Senior state BJP leader Dhumal says, “Certain things are not in my hands and not in my power. This is to be decided by the party high command. They will do the right thing at the right time. I think they will announce at the proper time.”
The BJP’s prime campaign issues are corruption and the law and order situation in the state and the “total halt of government works”. However, the party is equally concerned about the financial health of the state. “The financial position is very bad. The state is in a very bad condition. It will take time to bring it on the rails again,” says Dhumal.
BJP’s vision document has referred to the issue of GST, which reportedly has the business community up in arms against the ‘bania’ party. Its poor and unsystematic implementation has irked the business community, leading to loss jobs and also revenue.
Modi has failed as an implementer – the schemes may be appealing on paper, but on ground the Modi government has less to show as results. This was evident during the demonetisation also.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is not an elected Member of Parliament but a selected one, (something which the BJP was against during the UPA term) said that the increasing the exemption limit of ₹ 10-lakh for small traders was demanded by the state government itself and thus have nothing new to offer to the people.
Filing of quarterly returns, high rate of taxation and duplication of taxes, an issue that is still a part of the GST as traders at all stages are ‘levying tax’ and with little or no relief at toll barriers, and tax staff taking their more than their usual cuts, are still bothering the business community.
But the party is not perturbed by the GST fallout. As a lollipop, the BJP is promising to raise the level of GST exemption to Rs 20 lakh if it comes to power. How far it will mitigate the concerns of the trading community, is difficult to predict now.
Ironically, even after three and half years in the Centre, the BJP or the Central Government have not moved much against the state chief minister on corruption charges. But it provides lip service to the cause with “we don’t interfere in the law process” rant.
How does the BJP plan to tackle unemployment in the state? The BJP admits that it cannot provide everybody with government jobs.
It plans to create job opportunities in tourism and other sectors, which the Congress Government has also been doing and which the BJP was also doing during its previous term. Nothing to write home about, on this score.
But nonetheless, though it has nothing new to offer with even the GST and demonetisation bombing, no futuristic vision or planning, without announced leadership, it still is likely to form the new government in the state.