The politically ailing UPA should invent an anchor populist measure in this budget without much fiscal cost to sustain its future electoral ambitions. NREGS of course has given a big benefit during the last parliamentary elections. Similarly, the time to launch such a scheme has arrived especially after the recent election debacles for it. Obviously, the government may turn to election targeted policies by slightly sidelining reform measures during this budget.
One such opportunity which may give mass appeal to the budget is the launch of the proposed food security programme. But its nationwide launch is difficult as a budgetary exercise. Besides, identification of the beneficiaries, cooperation from the states and that among the central ministries etc, should be completed. But still the government can introduce the scheme as a concept on a pilot basis in selected ultra poor districts. The advantage of such a step is that it will minimize cost for the government, simultaneously putting the programme on a launch pad.
The enactment of Food Security Act and its universal introduction is a financially burdensome business. If it goes for the universal launch, it shows the commitment of the UPA to generate political gains by suffering on fiscal front.
The NREGS was also introduced on a pilot basis before its countrywide expansion. Another positive about the food security programme is that it will make Congress more powerful in the UPA, by compelling powerful allies like Trinamool to clap for Congress