India’s political parties have a feudal approach in a republic – The Times of India Blog

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TOI Quick Edits are written by a team of seasoned journalists from the Times of India’s Edit Page and TOI-Online who respond to important news stories as they develop. The team comprises senior journalists with wide-ranging interests who debate and opine on the news and issues of the day. LESS … MORE
In the five states that will elect new assemblies over the next few weeks, the Covid vaccination certificate will not carry Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s picture. A similar practice was followed in 2021 during the assembly elections.

Altering the vaccination certificate during assembly elections forefronts the fuzzy line of demarcation between instruments of the state and the political executive. In a republic where the political executive draws its authority on the back of a popular mandate, there needs to be a clear line of demarcation between the state and a political party in power. This is missing in India where successive governments both at the Centre and states have intentionally diluted the line of demarcation.
Also read: CoWin filters to take PM pics off vaccine certs in poll-bound states
One way it shows up is in the manner in which provision of public services is framed. Nothing is free, be it vaccines or electricity. It is paid for by the taxpayer, which now includes almost every Indian household because of the scope of indirect taxes such as GST. How an incumbent government wants to spend a taxpayer’s money is a matter of fiscal policy and it can span anything from MSP for some farmers to bailouts for struggling telecom companies.
Fiscal policy can never satisfy all constituencies because it involves choices. But what it is not is a free provision of goods or services. Nothing is free for a society and the bill has to be paid by the taxpayer.
That India’s political parties frame it as a gift only showcases their feudal way of thinking. 21st century India is a republic and not a medieval state.
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