With the poll season, political parties are busy planning to lure the electorate with their promises which also include freebies. Over the years the politics of freebies has become an integral part of the electoral battles and the scenario is no different in the assembly polls in five states- UP, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur. While some political party is offering free electricity, others are offering monthly allowance to unemployed, daily wage workers and women. Scooters and smartphones are also part of these promises. There are arguments both in favour and against this practice. The supporters of such freebies argue that poll promises are essential for voters to know what the party would do if it comes to power and have the chance to weigh options. Those against these freebies point out that this places an economic burden on the exchequer.
- Since access to basic needs like water, food,health etc are needs and rights of every citizen to live a happy life under right to life and personal liberty, no democratically government in informed society of today’s can neglect these, given heavy lacuna in provision of basic services.
- It is duty of welfare of based government to seek the uplift of masses who are denied even basic services.
- Given large disparity in access to Common Pool of Resources, it is onus of government to do the enabling act.
- It can boost consumption in sluggish economy , hence manufacturing sector will be encouraged and economic growth will be more.
- It can prove helpful in mitigating poverty, burden of diseases and improvement in human development index.
- Freebies like giving fancy stuff like laptops , televisions, utensils etc may put heavy burden on fiscal pockets of government without serving much benefit to large sections of society who are in need of basic services.
- Freebies may make public inefficient and can lead to corruption in government offices.
- Diverted funds to freebies may cut fiscal expenditure in enabling and sustainable work of infrastructure and economic development
- It may set wrong trend to grab power based bubble of freebies.
- More resource will be diverted towards consumption rather than sustainable infrastructure development.
- Inefficiency may crop in governance
However, there are certain very useful subsidies and freebies which alleviates suffering of millions in poverty such as:
- Food and water subsidies with effective targeting and without leakages to create a health and empowered India
- Farm subsidies to make farming sustainable and profitable,specially for small farmers.
Situation in Recent Assembly Elections:
- Not a single party had any strategy or concrete plan to create more employmentor improve the ease of doing business.
- The entire focus was to simply grant loan waivers and distribute as many articles free of cost as each party could imagine.
- Freebies and loan waiverswill eventually bankrupt the State after State.
- The Election Commission also conveyed the same view in its affidavit and expressed the view that the promise of freebies disturbs the level playing field and vitiate the electoral process.
- It expressed its willingness to implement any directions of the Supreme Court in this regard.
- But the Supreme Court missed the golden opportunityand merely observed that the Election Commission “should consult all political parties and issue suitable directions in this behalf”.