Within a day, we will know whether Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is any different from Congress Finance Minister. I would like to warn Narendra Modi that he does not have 5 years time. Many advisers say that for two years there must be harsh measures and then after that, government can show progress and give people benefits.
1. The real world does not work like that. People want relief from Day 1. If government takes harsh measures, the political goodwill of Modi will be lost and his government will be in trouble. Arun Jaitley cannot afford bad news.He might be under illusions that people are ready to suffer. Just a hike of 15% in railway fares brought so much ill-will for the BJP government. Finance Minister Jaitley must understand that any tinkering against the common man’s interest will not be forgiven. The flood of ill-will will wash away the entire political capital of Narendra Modi.
2. If Arun Jaitley listens only to business and industry, then again the government will be in trouble. The country needs a happy business sector. But the Finance Minister and Prime Minister must remember that business only thinks of itself. Their only concern is profits and stock market. Government must be cautious and listen. But do not follow business. When Telecom Scam was going on, no businessmen exposed it. The entire business community was aware that there was mighty corruption in the telecom sector. No one blew the whistle. Where were the upright people in Indian industry?
3. The election mandate was for Modi against the Congress. It was not a mandate where people are ready to suffer. Economic reforms are painful. Government needs heavyweights. Except Jaitely and Rajnath Singh, there are no political heavyweights. Reforms need heavyweights. Prime Minister Narisimha Rao had 12 Ex- Chief Ministers in his government in 1991-96. That is why he was able to weather the pain from economic reforms, the Assam trouble and most important the Khalistani threat to India.
The BJP government has to tread very carefully on water. It has very little time. Its victory is not for pain, but immediate relief.