The Congress party would have us believe that India’s economic reforms commenced under its leadership in 1991—stewarded by the then finance minister, Manmohan Singh. But its recent policy moves, which only spell populism, are a cause for rethink. Even before the logistics of the payout for its Rs60,000 crore farm loan waiver could be sorted out, the party is now wooing voters in Karnataka with promises of a bunch of freebies if it gets elected in the assembly polls next month. Unable to cap the inflationary pressures and to offset the political damage, the party has announced free colour TV sets for those living below the poverty line. Going by the success that the DMK managed by a similar promise in the 2006 assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, it may be another instance of effective politics. But sound economics? Definitely not.
Other political parties won’t be stopped from doing likewise, too. So, a government will inherit a fiscal liability even before assuming power. It is high time the Congress set an example and walked the talk.