The general elections are approximately two months away. After spending almost five years in the opposition benches, the Congress Party is finally dropping hints about the kind of India they envisage if they were to return to power. Although opposing Prime Minister Modi and everything he does and says still remains their primary theme, the country is increasingly getting a glimpse of how a Rahul Gandhi led government will function.
In the past week, one has gotten a sense of the economic and social policies of a Rahul Gandhi led government. One has also gotten a sense of how authoritarian or non-authoritarian such a government would be, and where exactly the needle falls in this context has been reinforced over time.
A few weeks back, Rahul Gandhi had announced that if the Congress Party were to come back to power, they would enforce a Universal Basic Income. A Universal Basic Income would mean that every individual, irrespective of class, creed or social status, would receive a certain amount on a monthly basis by virtue of simply existing. This is in contrast to the targeted basic income that the Modi government announced during the union budget, aimed specifically at small-time farmers and delivered in three installments every year. Rahul Gandhi’s plan will cost the country a bomb, and according to several experts, might not even be viable. So how does he plan on funding this?
In comes Saint Picketty. Last week, it was reported that the French economist Thomas Picketty is in touch with the Congress Party, and is advising them about their economic policies. This man believes that inequality is a feature of capitalism that can only be resolved through state intervention. He believes most tax-paying Indians are undertaxed. He recommends a top income tax rate of 80% and a next-to-top income tax rate of 50 to 60%. Essentially, with his Robin Hood economics, he wants to turn Rahul Gandhi into India’s Hugo Chavez. Now, remember that India is the fastest growing major economy in the world today, and according to several prestigious institutions, is expected to remain so for the years to come. Between 2019 and 2035, India is slated to have 17 of the top 20 fastest growing cities in the world. The Congress Party’s plans obviously are radically different from remaining on this growth trajectory. Instead, by 2035, we could all well be on the streets fighting each other over vegetables and toilet paper, the trajectory that Chavez put Venezuela on.
Last week, it was also announced that if the Congress Party were to return to power, the practice of Triple Talaq which the Modi government abolished, would be decriminalized once again. Muslim men would be able to divorce their wives on a whim, and leave them with absolutely nothing and nowhere to go. This would in effect also bring the barbaric practice of Nikah Halala back to the table, wherein if a man realised that he had mistakenly divorced his wife in a fit of rage, he could get her married to someone else, get them to consummate the marriage and then break it off, and remarry his former wife. Apart from the crudity of this practice, the complication that often arises is the second husband’s refusal to break off the marriage unless he is adequately compensated. The compensation can be monetary or sexual, and once he has married her and consummated the marriage, the blackmail can be eternal. Therefore the practice of Triple Talaq, which is the cause of all these absurdities, has been banned in most Islamic countries too. What this essentially means is that the Congress Party intends on turning India into a more regressive state than Pakistan or Saudi Arabia.
We have also, over the last few months and especially over the last week, received indications of the kind of government the Congress Party will run. Rahul Gandhi has, in no uncertain terms, proclaimed that he will remove RSS loyalists from the system. The RSS is the largest social organisation in the world, and removing people who are sympathetic to their cause from the entire system would mean that only those who are politically aligned with the Congress Party would be allowed to serve the government. This means that even institutions which are supposed to keep the government in check would be made up of people who are sympathetic to the Congress Party. Kapil Sibal pretty much confirmed this when he warned officials who were not toeing the Congress Party’s line, telling them that the party was keeping an eye on them. Institutions such as the election commission, the judiciary, the CAG, the CBI, the ED, and others have been constantly under attack by the Congress Party ever since it was relegated to the opposition benches. What it was that they were preparing the ground for through these attacks, is now evident.
Similar threats were made prior to the elections in Madhya Pradesh, and within days of the Kamal Nath government taking charge, bureaucrats were transferred and the killings of BJP leaders began. The Congress is no stranger in carrying out such Communist purges. Nehru’s legendary attempts to ban everything and everyone who was critical of him, and the glorious legacy of Indira Gandhi’s emergency, are testament to these trigger-happy tendencies.
So all in all, economic policies which will drive India towards poverty and unrest like Venezuela, social policies which will drive India towards an archaicity that is more regressive than Saudi Arabia, and state control that will make North Korea proud, is what the Congress Party is essentially promising the people of India. Oh and also, instead of buying nicer fighter jets, the money would be used to compensate pilots who lose their lives flying the not-so-nice ones.