Rajasthan: Crown of thorns awaits Bhajan Lal Sharma

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The economic experts have warned that Rajasthan may have to pay a heavy cost for restoring Old Pension Scheme.

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By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, December 15: A crown of thorn waits for Bhajan Lal Sharma as he takes the office of the chief minister in Rajasthan. While he has a mountain of political challenges within the Bharatiya Janata Party to deal with, Sharma also had an enormous task on hand to take Rajasthan out of the ditch of debt.

Rajasthan has a whopping Rs 5.90 lakh crores of debt. The Reserve Bank of India in a report last year had listed Rajasthan among the states which are in serious trouble because of the rising debt. The Ashok Gehlot-led government had also bought a mountain of debt on Rajasthan by committing that the Old Pension Scheme will be restored.

There are almost 5.60 lakh employees in Rajasthan who have been brought in the ambit of Old Pension Scheme. Rajasthan also is among a few states where the recently retired employees have been given the benefits of the Old Pension Scheme. The economic experts have warned that Rajasthan may have to pay a heavy cost for restoring Old Pension Scheme. Ironically, the Congress had hoped that the restoration of Old Pension Scheme will help the party retain power in Rajasthan.

The BJP had also been on the defensive on the issue of the restoration of the Old Pension Scheme. Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat had during the election campaign said that the Central government is examining the issue of the Old Pension Scheme. The Centre has constituted a committee to look into the suggestions to improve the New Pension Scheme by incorporating features of assured returns on the lines of the scheme in Andhra Pradesh.

Sharma also has a daunting task on hand to improve the law and order situation in Rajasthan. The BJP had turned the alleged collapse of the law and order situation into an election issue in Rajasthan. Uttar Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had extensively spoken of the way he dealt with the law and order issue in the state where he claimed that bulldozers arrive at houses of criminals immediately after they commit crimes. With no administrative experience, Sharma will have to quickly learn the art of governance to go after mafias as alleged by the BJP to be working in Rajasthan and restore the considence of the people.

Sharma may get a Cabinet full of youngsters as ministers on the lines of the Gujarat experiment of the BJP. Yet, Rajasthan has a number of senior BJP leaders who will be sitting in the state Assembly. Also, Rajasthan has a history of political instability and the MLAs changing fences. In this backdrop, the political acumen of Sharma will be on the test. Besides, Sharma has to quickly deliver on the claims made by the BJP in the poll promises to get the double-engine government putting Rajasthan on the fast lane of development while sending the criminals to the jails. Sharma’s challenge is more immediate because the BJP will come to the people again within four months asking for votes in the Lok Sabha elections.  

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