Minding the store


How much slack does one reasonably cut the government? Granted the incumbent government inherited a serious set of problems when it came to power in 2008. Galloping inflation and extremely messy books on the finance ministry front, a severely mismanaged war on terror on the ministry of interior front and a far, far from adequate national power grid is what the ministry of water and power got. These problems and their solutions are not a switch that can be neatly switched on and off depending on policy. Repercussions of decisions made today can reverberate years from now.
None of that can be used as an excuse longer than it should. Any political party campaigning in an election is transmitting a message to the electorate, even if this message is not very explicitly stated: we have a plan.
This government doesn’t, apparently. On the security front, it has managed to make lemonade out of the lemons it has gotten in the form of a deep state that makes it own plans and a terror movement that has proved tenacious. It has reasonably wrestled with that problem.
Areas of neglect are the finance ministry, which has seen minister after minister since ‘08 as well as many more principal bureaucrats. And governors of the central bank. With a newer person in each of these positions, comes a learning curve, which cannot be steep enough to be adequate. Some astute decisions on the agricultural goods markets were made, and some development on the taxation front. Otherwise, a feeling of autopilot.
But it is the power ministry, really, where the feeling of no one minding the store really comes through. Merely explaining the problem to the public is not good enough. Where is the plan?
With mercury rising, expect more rioting.
To segue into that, though riots are but inevitable, it is strange to see the Punjab government egging them on. The CM, who personally holds the home affairs portfolio, is clearly not being professional if he does this, regardless of his justified opposition to the federal government.
On a similar note, his statement about the people not wanting democracy but electricity was rather crass. Such statements actually are the currency of the anti-democracy dispensation. He is doing the rhetorical job of those who oppose his and all political governments. Care should be employed when by senior politicians in nascent democracies.