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Message sent by the average voter during bypolls is loud and clear, says P Chidambaram

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Two apparently unconnected events happened on Wednesday, March 14, 2018. All demands for grants were ‘guillotined’ (ie moneys were allocated without a debate) and the Lok Sabha passed the Finance Bill 2018 without a discussion. Three Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar voted decisively in favour of the candidate who defeated the BJP’s candidate.

The first event represented the arrogance of a party’s power, the second the assertion of people’s power.

I am fascinated by events and incidents that illustrate the fact that, more than any person or institution, it is the people of India who will call the government’s callousness, ineptitude and bluff. From Maharashtra to Gujarat to Rajasthan to Uttar Pradesh to Bihar, the gathering storm is plainly evident. Rural India is in acute distress and urban India is divided among the helpless poor and middle class and the palanquin-bearing sections that will go along with any regime.

Agriculture in crisis

Let’s begin with rural India. Sixty per cent of the population is dependent — as its main source of livelihood — on agriculture (whose share in GDP is just 16%). They include small farmers, landless agricultural labourers, family labour, village industries, vendors in the village markets, petty shopkeepers, and the small service providers. They are the poor. Their poverty affects every aspect of their lives — from their........

© The Financial Express