Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily was a prime target of the Opposition's gibe.
The petroleum ministry's drive for fuel conservation from September 16 to reduce demand and save an estimated Rs 16,000 crore is an ominous sign for the economic democracy. Can the government force austerity measures on the people to make up for its failure on the economic front? Today, it is calling for shutting petrol pumps in the night to reduce demand for fuel, tomorrow it might think of controlling milk or medicine shops, putting children and patients in problem.
The prime minister and the finance minister reportedly rejected the idea but why such idea came up in the first place? Are things indicating at an economic emergency?
It is futile to expect austerity to gain prominence in the daily economic practice when the ministers and people's representatives do not bother to lead the way.
The Indian state has set up a culture of subsidised economy to help the poor since the very beginning but has succeeded little in shielding them. Subsiding diesel has only seen people going for fuel-guzzling high-end cars to get cheaper diesel but those meant to get benefitted from the scheme have got lost in the crowd.
Now, the government is looking to tame the demand. Why didn't it implement strong civic measures to discipline the fuel-users all these years? The politicians have made the economy a toy to play with for political gains and when it has started seriously backfiring, they are thinking about bizarre ways to get out of the hole. The shutting of petrol pumps in the night will lead to adverse consequences all over, both economically and socially.
The Indian political system must have a system of holding plebiscite to recall leaders who have failed to revive any hope for their people. Governance is not a child's play and with time, it has become a more complicated affair to deal with. It needs hard-working executives who mean business, not naïve decision-makers.