Election strategist Prashant Kishor held his much-anticipated press conference in Patna on Tuesday. He attacked Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for aligning with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and also for not doing enough for the state’s development. Rashtriya Lok Samata Party leader Upendra Kushwaha, an ally of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)-Congress alliance, supported Kishor. Kushwaha said Kishor's strategy would bring to Bihar the transformation it needs. The Congress is keen that Kumar severs his alliance with the BJP before the Bihar Assembly polls to shape an alliance similar to the one in 2015. However, the RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav is unwilling, and the alliance is sceptical about its chances without the RJD’s support. The BJP is desperate to retain Kumar and his Janata Dal (United) within the fold of the NDA, and both Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have said Kumar is their chief ministerial candidate. Opposition leaders are set to queue up to meet RJD chief Lalu Prasad in a Ranchi jail, while Kumar is expected to drive a hard bargain on seat sharing with the BJP.
Aftermath of AAP win
The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP’s) spectacular win in Delhi has not only extended the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) exile from the Delhi Secretariat, it has sent a warning signal to the bodies the BJP still controls — the three municipal corporations (13 years and counting). The buzz is that in a cabinet meeting Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has called on Wednesday, the government will discuss sanitation — an area where the roles of the corporations and the state government overlap — as a key plank. This has left BJP corporators ill at ease because they have two fears: One, that AAP may now eye the municipal elections, in which it didn’t perform well last time, and two, that the government can claim credit (and benefit politically) for some of the work that the corporations have done. A corporator cited the example of the government’s claims on dealing with dengue cases, for which the groundwork had been supposedly done by the corporations. However, given that allegations of inefficiency are often levelled against these bodies, their claims are best taken with a pinch of salt.
Lord of the ‘wring’
As we grapple with a vicious cycle of job loss and low income, leading to a drop in demand and consumption, one would have expected goods and services tax (GST) collection to slow because GST is a consumption-based tax. But to everyone’s surprise, collection has been growing, with GST crossing the Rs 1-trillion mark in December last year. When quizzed about the reason for these divergent trends, a GST official asked a counter question: “What do you do after washing your clothes and before putting them out to dry? You wring them.” That was an oblique reference to the stringent anti-evasion measures taken by the government to ensure compliance. On their efficacy, the official said such measures could not guarantee sustained growth in revenues.