Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath's incentive to industries to hire 70% locals is just more narrow identity politics
Leave aside poor migrants. If there was ever a cap on the percentage of politicians from outside who could enter raajneeti in MP, Nath himself would not made the cut.
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The newly anointed Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Kamal Nath, has kicked off a controversy on his very first day in office.
After taking a decision to waive farm loans up to Rs 2 lakhs, one of the Congress' main poll promises, the CM announced that incentives would only be given to industries if they hire 70% people from MP.
Speaking at his first press conference after assuming office, Nath said, "Our schemes of providing incentives of investment will only be imposed after 70% people from MP get employment. People from states like Bihar and UP come here and local people don't get jobs. I have signed the file for this."
Apart from anti-incumbency and agrarian distress, one of the major reasons for voter anger against the previous Shivraj Singh Chouhan government was the lack of jobs. The BJP government could only generate an average of 17,600 jobs annually over the last 14 years.
But decisions like providing incentives based on whom industry hires will hamper the performance of the industries as domicile, more than an individual's qualifications and competence, will become the main criteria.
The sop flies in the face of the Congress' stand against the politics of discriminating against outsiders practised frequently by regional 'son of the soil' parties. (Photo: PTI)
Instead of helping industries by providing an enabling infrastructure, and making the state an attractive investment destination, Nath seems to be falling into the trap of quick, knee-jerk populist measures. Another reason the grand old party should have gone ahead with a younger face like Jyotiraditya Scindia, who probably could have looked above these lame, regressive schemes and focused more on competence. And merit.
It also flies in the face of the Congress' stand against the politics of discriminating against outsiders practised frequently by regional 'son of the soil' parties like the Shiv Sena and MNS in Maharashtra.
The state of Maharashtra has already seen the ugly side of branding people from other states as 'villains', apparently poaching on the locals' jobs, when scores of labourers from UP and Bihar were targeted and attacked by goons associated with these outfits.
If this is a trailer of the imagination and grand plans that a CM of the principal opposition party has, it's high time the Congress goes back to the drawing board.
The Rahul Gandhi-led Congress that sees itself as the pricipal challenger to the incumbent Modi government at the centre in the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha polls, will have to move beyond mere optics and appeasement if it wants to present an alternative.
It also sounds quite contradictory as Nath himself was born in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
If there was indeed a cap on the percentage of politicians from outside states who could enter politics in MP, Nath himself would not have made the cut.