Here's what to expect from the new government in Maharashtra
- Uddhav Thackeray will take oath as the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra with support from Sharad Pawar's NCP and the Indian National Congress.
- The three parties differ in their ideologies and therefore have decided to arrive at a 'common minimum programme'.
- Given the state's rural distress, financial aid for farmers cannot be ruled out.
Thackeray has got to this point with support from Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party and the Indian National Congress. All three parties differ in their ideologies and therefore have decided to arrive at a 'common minimum programme' in a bid to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party out of power.
Given the state's rural distress, financial aid for farmers cannot be ruled out. "There has been significant
political discourse around farm stress in last few weeks. Farm loan waiver can potentially could be the first order of the business of the new government," a Macquarie research report said.
This has implication for the state's financial health. An estimated ₹50,000 crore farm loan waiver, spread over 2 years, will push the state's fiscal deficit beyond 3%. Fiscal deficit is the amount of money a government spends over and above its earnings and it's advised by law that any government (state or central) should keep the excess spending to less than 3% over its earnings.
Maharashtra's budget deficit is already at a four-year high, which means the government has been spending a lot more than it earns.
While the farm crisis in the state does warrant immediate attention, a farm loan will increase the deficit and reduce the money available for growth projects like building infrastructure.
In the last three years, Mumbai has seen an explosion of infrastructure projects which are in various stages of completion. Roads have been dug up across the city causing traffic snarls but people have been hopeful that the temporary pain will make way for easier commute in the future. For instance, 274 kilometres (km) of metro-rail network is under construction.
In the particular case of the metro rail shed construction in the Aarey colony (a rare green cover in the mega city), the incoming coalition will be tested on its will to reverse the decision. The previous government had bulldozed opposition from the citizens to the cutting of about 2,0000 trees for the construction of the shed, while all opposition parties paid nothing more than lip-service to the cause.
Aside from the metro rail construction in the capital city, there are also other marquee projects like the upcoming airport in Navi Mumbai, the high-speed rail corridor between Mumbai and Nagpur as well as Mumbai and Ahmedabad (in the neighbouring state of Gujarat) that will be in focus. As rivals of BJP, the parties in the incoming coalition have time and again criticised these ambitious projects heralded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
According to the top NCP leadership, the three parties have decided that the money which is to be given by the state government for the Bullet Train will be diverted to the farmer welfare scheme as it is part of the common minimum programme they have agreed on, the IANS reported on Tuesday.
The good news is that the Navi Mumbai airport and the Trans-harbour sea link may not get stalled, according to Macquarie, but the pace of approvals may slowdown delaying the projects. The international financial services firm believes that the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine will be more favourable to the builders in the state and that will be music to the ears for the state's real estate sector that has been in shambles for a while now.
It is important that Maharashtra's economy keeps moving at a fast pace because it is the largest contributor to India's GDP (gross domestic product). And already, Maharashtra's contribution to India's GDP is at a multi-year low at 14%. That's a significant setback for the state that is home to the country's financial capital.
These are the issues the opposition could have capitalised on but didn’t