Top down economy model under stress; freebies stay in Himachal Pradesh

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, November 5: Himachal Pradesh is a state of government employees and apple growers. The Bharatiya Janata Party is sweating to cheer up the two constituencies, as the hilly state is a few days away from polling on November 12.

Congress on Saturday released party’s 10 guarantees to the people of Himachal Pradesh. The top guarantee is to restore the ‘Old Pension Scheme’. Congress is also restoring the ‘Old Pension Scheme (OPS)’ in Rajasthan. Ground reports from Himachal Pradesh suggest that the issue of restoring the OPS may swing the outcome of the Assembly elections.

The government employees across the country are stated to be miffed at the ‘New Pension Scheme’ after knowing that there is a huge difference in the pension amounts that the retired government employees are getting under the older version and what others who retired after the changed pension policy are getting. The difference is too large. The BJP too has been forced in Himachal Pradesh to commit to work for the implementation of the OPS, stressing on a report prepared by a panel and that the next government would work on. The BJP may find difficult to explain why the work that could have been done by the outgoing government has been postponed for the next government, as seen from the voices on the streets in the hilly state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had articulated his stance against the culture of freebies at a meeting in Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh where a special meeting was called by the Central government with the chief secretaries of the states in the run up to the Governing Council meeting of the Niti Aayog. But Modi is now toiling hard to beat the politics of freebies in the Himachal Pradesh elections, as the principal rival of the BJP has promised Rs 1500 per month for each woman in the state. Congress has gone a step ahead of the Aam Aadmi Party which had promised Rs 1000 for each woman above 18 years of age in Punjab.

“Rs 1500 for each woman in Himachal Pradesh guarantee will be implemented in the very first Cabinet meeting in Himachal Pradesh after the government formation, which will help ease life of the people in times of price rise,” said Dhaniram Shandilya, the chairman of the manifesto committee of Congress on Saurday. The BJP will be releasing its ‘Sankalpa Patra’ on Sunday in Himachal Pradesh. Congress has also given the guarantee to give one lakh job right after the formation of the government in Shimla, besides 300 units of electricity, while also guaranteeing to buy cow dung at the rate of Rs 2 a kg and also milk at better rates.

With the price rise issue resonating and also the assessments of the economists that the economy is not creating jobs, Himachal Pradesh elections take back the people to old slogans of the state taking direct care of the people and not that the economy will create prosperity for the electorate.

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