Politics of freebies
In the next one and a half months, elections are going to be held in five states of India, including Uttar Pradesh, the largest state in terms of population. In elections, it is common for political parties to woo voters, and for that many promises are made by these parties to the voters. In general, the subjects of law and order, education, health, civic amenities, roads (local to state highways), industry, agriculture etc. remain the responsibility of the state governments. If the political parties make promise of a better governance it makes sense; but nowadays the promise of better governance has taken a back seat. And now all the political parties believe in wooing voters by offering freebies after elections. Recently, Akhilesh Yadav, the chief of Samajwadi Party, a major political party of Uttar Pradesh, has said that if his party comes to power, free electricity up to 300 units will be given to every household. In other states also political parties are offering similar types of freebies to the voters.
In Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party, in its election promise, had earlier promised to reduce the electricity bills to consumers using electricity up to two hundred units and subsequently subsidised bill upto 400 units a month. Similarly water bills are made zero, upto a certain limit. Along with this, free travel for women in local transport was also promised. It is believed that due to this, the Aam Aadmi Party got a big gain in the elections.
In the same way, today every political party seems to be making mockery of democracy by way of wooing the voters through offering freebies. In the elections in Punjab too, the same political party (Aam Aadmi Party) has promised Rs 1,000 per month to every woman above the age of 18 years. In the same Punjab elections, Akali Dal has promised Rs 2,000 per month to each blue card holder women. Similarly, in the 2017 election manifesto, the Congress party had promised to give Rs 2,500 to every unemployed youth apart from loan waiver for farmers.
It is worth mentioning that all those states in which political parties are announcing such freebies in elections are already in huge debt. It is natural that the condition of these states is likely to worsen further due to spending more than their capacity and distributing freebies, due to which there may be a deterioration in the level of civic and social services in these states, including health, education, roads, transportation, sanitation, agricultural development, industrial development etc. For example, the total debt on Punjab is about Rs 2.83 lakh crore, while that on Uttar Pradesh it is Rs 6.53 lakh crore. Similarly, the debt of Andhra Pradesh is Rs 3.99 lakh crore. However, in all these states, political parties are competing with each other, in announcing freebies in elections, the condition of those states may be worse than before.
It can be said that the competition to distribute money in freebies for winning elections is actually affecting the civic and social services in the states, which cannot be justified under any circumstances. In this way, Arvind Kejriwal's Delhi government has been at the forefront in distributing freebies and spending heavily on publicity of that policy. But it is also true that this government has not built any new infrastructure, hospital, college or school during its rule. It is believed that the entire focus of his government is on garnering votes by distributing freebies. Further, this trend is also fatal for our democratic system. In a democracy, political parties and candidates are required to be elected on the basis of their merits and demerits. But influencing voters by luring them is against the basic spirit of democracy.
History is witness that freebies' politics in many countries has ruined those countries. Somewhere in the name of socialism, and in the name of relief elsewhere, such tactics have been used to woo votes. In recent years, the example of Venezuela is before us. In the year 2013, the country which stood in the category of developed countries, is facing bankruptcy today. It's seen that the politics of freebies is basically responsible for their fall. European countries also spend hugely in the name of social security. Due to this, their financial situation is significantly impacted. Today, most of the European countries, which were filthy rich in the past, are under the burden of huge debt. It's time for people all over the globe to give a rethinking to the politics of freebies.