Modi govt keeps his nerve, Budgets for uncertain times
Amid the turmoil over changes in the Citizenship Law, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi It is said that he has firmly maintained that support for him, which resulted in BJP obtaining a surprising figure of 303 seats in May last year, remains intact. The confidence, which was evident on Friday when he urged NDA parliamentarians not to be defensive, extends through the Budget.
Amid relentless comments about the economy in free fall and the warning that the decline in GDP figures amid social unrest could cause the kind of disturbances that led to the destabilization of strong regimes elsewhere, the government has held its nerve and is going to press along the path that has been attacked by pundits, here as well as abroad. There has been a ‘deviation’ from the fiscal deficit target, but the government has resisted the temptation to abandon the road of rectitude altogether in order to buy peace with sections which are supposed to be sullen.
The money thus insured will be spent on infrastructure development that it will be a piece with the vision of a powerful nation that Modi has successfully promoted since 2014; something that is also an integral part of the strong leader model associated with it. The proposed changes in the tax regime could disappoint the middle class taxpayers who supported it in 2014 and 2019, but may reflect the calculation that a constituency that bought 'nationalism' and the '' project will not be volatile, in least not so early. This is not an extravagant hope, as the lasting popularity of other nationalists attests to the power of affective polarization.
The concessions will certainly strengthen Modi's control over applicants who have entered the middle class category or those who are trapped there: a significant number that has been an important factor in the success of BJP. They, like the crowds in rural areas, supported him in demonetization and will be delighted with the late move to strip his immunity and fiscal glamor. Those dedicated to the agricultural and allied sectors will be delighted with the attention given to them. It is true that the promises made in the last period have not paid off. The schemes, from the plan to create a network of warehouses to the execution of special trains and flights to transport perishable agricultural products, will not generate tangible benefits immediately. But this can help support the promise to remedy unfair treatment applied to rural areas and farmers for decades.