Editors Column

Rising fuel prices have proved to be a good political stick to beat the government with. It happened in the run-up to the general elections in 2014 and it is happening now. Finance minister Arun Jaitley appears to have lobbed the oil prices issue back into the opposition court on a day when the election commission announced polls for five states.

By deciding to go her own way in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, BSP supremo Mayawati fired the first salvo and punctured the whole idea of a mahagathbandhan or grand alliance of opposition parties at the national level.

After the mobilisation of farmers in western Maharashtra by opposition parties, Kisan Kranti Yatra – the long march over 10 days – held by the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) with thousands of farmers is yet another indication of unrest in rural India.

There is no doubt that India wants a trade deal with the US and president Donald Trump’s Republican administration. But the reasons for doing so as suggested by Trump are clearly at variance with how the Indian government looks at the issue – and it is certainly not about pleasing the US president.

IT was expected that the government would not let IL&FS go down the tube. That has become evident now that the government has superseded the board and banker Uday Kotak has been appointed non-executive chairman. The government has said that there would be no further loan defaults. It has also sent the matter to NCLT. The swiftness with which it has acted merits an analysis.

The government appears to be setting its finances in order as part of the pre-budget exercise that is expected to kick off soon. There has been a rollout of budget management measures that are key to finance minister Arun Jaitley presenting his last budget on February 1 before prime minister Narendra Modi’s term ends.

The latest Reserve Bank of India (RBI) circular will allow banks to access an additional Rs 2.5 lakh crore by pledging two per cent extra government paper signalling an easing of the liquidity stress. Banks can now dip into government bonds under the mandated Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) up to 15 per cent of Net Demand To Liquidity (NDTL) for meeting liquidity requirements.

A new three-judge bench of the Supreme Court will start daily hearings in the Ayodhya case beginning October 29. After several twists and turns the final hearings will begin in a bid to resolve the sensitive issue. The bench that included Chief Justice Dipak Misra has maintained that the apex court’s 1994 verdict in the Ismail Faruqui case will not be sent to a larger bench.

The Supreme Court’s judgment on Aadhaar is significant for a number of reasons, but chiefly for upholding the safety aspect of it, which has been a concern among many. The government will see this as vindication of its stand for using Aadhaar as basic identity proof to roll out welfare schemes.

India could be going through its own Lehman Brothers moment that rattled US markets and triggered a financial turmoil a decade ago.