The Gehlot government ends 2 years plagued by crises with few successes and errors
The last two years for the congressional government in Rajasthan have been challenging. If in the first year the party witnessed a debacle in the Lok Sabha elections by losing all 25 seats in the four months after coming to power; The second year of government was also not a piece of cake due to the coronavirus outbreak and the revolt of the CM deputy, Sachin Pilot, against the leadership of Prime Minister Ashok Gehlot.
Amid the Corona pandemic outbreak, the difference between Gehlot and Pilot came to light following allegations by the CM that the BJP was making efforts to overthrow their government, as was done in Madhya Pradesh.
The crisis, which continued for over a month, ended on a happy note with a floor test with Pilot and his supporters casting their votes in support of the Gehlot government, but the time in between was filled with uncertainties and political machinations that involved the action of central agencies such as the Income Tax and Supervision Directorate. As differences within Congress sharpened over the handling of the Pilot rebellion, he was removed from the post of deputy CM and head of the state party. His two loyalists, Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena, also lost their bunks in the cabinet.
During the political crisis, the pilot camp MLAs, about 18, camped out of state, while the Congressional MLAs moved to hotels for a month in Jaipur and Jaisalmer. The fight between the two groups reached the Speaker of the Assembly, the Governor and the High Court of Rajasthan. The crisis ended with the intervention of the central leadership of Congress and the government, passing the soil test in the State Assembly. However, on December 5, Gehlot again blamed the BJP for trying to overthrow the state government.
The year had started on a challenging note for the Gehlot government, with an Italian tourist testing positive for COVID-19 in March.
Rajasthan was the first state in the country to impose a lockdown to contain the spread of the virus. With its ‘Bhilwara model’, the state government was nationally appreciated for containing the disease during the first days.
While the Bhilwara district administration managed to break the chain of the virus, cases in other areas continued to rise and the high number of Covid cases in the Ramganj area of the state capital caused great concern.
The crisis saw CM Gehlot lead the crown’s management efforts in the state himself, including supporting the opposition for the anti-virus campaign and improving the state’s medical infrastructure.
State politics witnessed many twists and turns, especially the panchayat, zila pramukh and local body elections held a few days ago. The results of these elections surprised many with Congress losing ground in rural areas and gaining support in urban areas.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP), which had extended its support for the ruling government during the political crisis and the Rajya Sabha elections, is now considering severing ties as party leaders allege that Congress supported the BJP in Zila Pramukh’s elections to keep his local ally powerless in some key regions.
The state is also facing farmer unrest due to the three farm laws passed by the Union government. In November, the state government, to counter the new agricultural laws, passed three bills in the state assembly in the footsteps of the Punjab and Chhattisgarh, governed by Congress. The Bills await the governor’s assent.
Meanwhile, working on the promises made in the manifesto, the state government has waived short-term agricultural loans of Rs 7,692 crore, benefiting farmers of 20.50 lakh; and Rs 290.14 million for medium and long-term loans. The state is also providing an old-age pension to farmers, which has benefited farmers of 2.79 lakh with the total disbursement under this scheme reaching Rs 317 million so far.
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However, some of the promises of the manifesto, such as the exemption of agricultural loans from commercial banks; regularization of contractual employees; educational policy and the right to health are still pending.
Transport Minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas says that the Rajasthan government’s handling of the pandemic is unmatched. “We are the first in the country to make sure no one goes to sleep hungry. The testing and treatment of Covid-19 was done for free, the state government distributed 2 million million masks and provided rations to 6 million people, “he said.
He also claimed that, although the results were not as expected in the panchayati raj institution (PRI) polls, Congress had increased its vote base in addition to taking a portion of the BJP vote bank in polls of local bodies.
He added that at the time of inflation, unemployment and high gasoline prices, the state government was providing unemployment benefit to young people.
Political analyst Rajan Mahan said the government’s performance could have been more impressive had it not been for major challenges such as the loss of all 25 Lok Sabha seats, the pandemic and the internal political crisis.
“Although the government came up with good initiatives like the loan waiver and youth unemployment allowance, the buzz, however, was not about achievements, but about friction within the party between Gehlot and Pilot,” he said. Mahan added that the sooner the differences are resolved, the better it will be for Congress.
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BJP leader and former prime minister Vasundhara Raje said this is the first time in seven decades that the government is “invisible” in the state, claiming that it was not visible to the public or workers in Congress.
In the name of development, this government could not carry out even two steps in two years, it further alleged.
“This government is misleading the public from day one: the first announcement to waive all the farmers’ loan in the next 10 days has not been fulfilled in 2 years. The government has failed all the exams, ”said Raje.
BJP state chairman Satish Poonia claimed that the Gehlot government had failed on all fronts. “The CM is insecure and this government is to be played. The congressional government did not come with a clear mandate and is running with the support of six BSP MLAs, which are still in doubt and the independents, ”he said.
Poonia affirmed that the political crisis within Congress continues, evidenced in the ‘removal’ of the head of state. “It is the people who are suffering from their internal struggles. A weak government doesn’t have a long life, ”he said.
Congressional 10-day loan waiver promise has left 59 lakh of farmers in the state waiting. The 27 lakhs of registered unemployed are waiting for unemployment benefit. People with a 2.5 lakh contract are waiting to be regularized. The promise to address complaints within a specified timeframe has yet to be kept. Law and order are deteriorating, according to NCRB data, there has been an increase of 4.7 million cases in the last two years, Poonia said.