There are various ways one can dress this up. Hard pressed farmers are offered substantial relief from their crushing loan burdens for example. That isn’t the right way to look at it, of course. Instead this is the buying of votes in the regional elections, the price being paid for the farming vote amounting to the sum spent on relieving those debts:
Bangalore – Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Thursday presented the Congress-JD(S) coalition government’s maiden budget, announcing farm loan waiver worth ₹34,000 crore.
The budget, however, has increased the rate of tax on petrol from the present 30% to 32%, hiking petrol prices by ₹1.14 a litre and the rate of tax on diesel from the present 19% to 21%, hiking its price by ₹1.12 a litre.
The way these things work is that those lightly – through the fuel duty rise – taxed don’t complain very much. After all, a light tax isn’t going to be enough to sway a vote. Those deeply interested in the subsidy will vote to get it. Thus taxing the population lightly to offer a substantial benefit to some gains a block of votes.
Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy today announced a loan waiver scheme for farmers — a key promise ahead of assembly elections amid farmer suicides and countrywide protests.
Promise it ahead of elections, get elected, give it. The follow through coming from the idea that you’d like your bribery promises next time around to be believed.
Politics, the art of bribing your voters with everyone elses’ money. As we’ve pointed out before:
India has long been a poster boy for the contention that buying votes is both easy and not a good idea. The bad idea being that the repeated elections mean that votes are often bought, to the general detriment of state and more general finances. That it’s easy by the manner in which people do keep getting elected by promising things.
One group notably favoured by such vote buying being the country’s farmers. They’re alarmingly poor, normal enough for such a poor country. They’re thus pretty cheap to buy, or at least their votes are. Promise a more favourable water allocation, perhaps free electricity to run the irrigation pumps and they’re yours. For this election at least. Obviously, at some point, offers have to go beyond that, like, say, why not just wipe out all loans that anyone has taken against their land?
That’s what’s happening, pure and simple.