Is poll-bound Himachal a cakewalk for BJP?
The first round of battle in 2017 goes the BJP way with the Assembly elections in five states are over. The BJP has done overwhelming well forming government in four states. Punjab falls in the Congress kitty; courtesy- Capt Amarinder Singh's undisputed leadership and mass base.
Now much is on stake for both PM Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah as their home state is next in election radar. The congress-ruled Himachal Pradesh is also to face elections this year. Both the states are up for grab for the BJP and it seems it will be a cake walk for the saffron party. With its victory over Himachal, the BJP will inch closer to its dream of 'Congress-mukt Bharat.'
The idyllic hilly state is in shamble with debt liability of more than Rs 40,000 Crore. A letter by Union Finance Ministry recently says that Himachal's debt liability will increase to Rs 45,213. 30 crore till March 31, 2017 but the government is indulging in extravagant expenditure. The loan is continuously rising even as Centre is providing Rs. 40,625 crore to the state under Revenue Deficit Grant.
The Congress government has raised a loan of Rs. 17,000 crore during four and a half years of its present tenure. Increase in debt during recent years is because of sharp reduction in Revenue Deficit Grant coupled with increased salary burden due to pay scale revision by Punjab Government and followed by Himachal Government in 2012 as Congress came back to power. The state government has raised all market loans only after obtaining the approval of Government of India.
The opposition has alleged major corruption allegation's against the CM and his cabinet colleagues. The question raised by Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal is directly connected to the state's economy. The budgetary deficit will keep on piling up if Himachal hopes to march ahead with the increasing debt liability.
Is Himachal heading towards a debt trap? The opposition has to rise and speak if state's economy looks weaker and people's income has increased, political observers feel. The issue of unemployment allowance gained momentum in the recent past but state's exchequer gets depleted whenever any decision is taken on political considerations.
Besides the financial situation the political heat in both the parties is also flurry. Though local leaders in the BJP are claiming a bumper (landslide) victory and many believe that Congress might stand with a tally of single digit in forthcoming assembly elections in the house of 68.
In his 55 years of political career, Virbhadra Singh never ever believed in second command or second rung of leadership that is why the state Congress is facing a big vacuum after him. At the age of 84, Singh still is projecting himself for the chief ministership. This has not gone down well with the masses.
While on the other hand, Dhumal is keeping all his cards close to chest as Modi was state incharge in 1998 when Dhumal took over the reins as the Chief Minister. Both are mass leaders but Dhumal is considered to be more accessible than Virbhadra in the state. The political churning has already started with Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh recent sprang a surprise which he is duly known for by offering his Assembly seat to his son Vikramaditya, saying he would himself like to contest from a seat which Congress has never won.