Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar on Tuesday said that the distribution of “freebies” is a matter that political parties need to seriously deliberate on as it can damage the economy, the Hindustan Times reported.
The vice president made the statement while addressing the concluding function of the 9th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, India Region Conference, in Udaipur.
“Political intoxication of people by the distribution of largesse requires serious deliberation,” Dhankhar said. “Economies have collapsed as a consequence of this. Thrust has to be to generate an ecosystem that empowers people to unleash their talent and potential. Reaching out to their pockets is not a rational option.”
The vice president made the statement in a context of a political tussle between the Bharatiya Janata Party and several Opposition parties in connection with certain forms of welfare benefits.
The BJP has frequently referred to such policies implemented in Opposition-ruled states as “freebies” and has contended that they are fiscally unsustainable. Opposition parties have, on their part, contended that such policies are beneficial as they are aimed at improving the economic condition of the poor.
Dhankhar on Tuesday said it is the “paramount role of public representatives to ensure executive accountability and fiscal discipline in governance”.
The vice president also said that capital expenditure in the country is showing a declining trend, reported the Hindustan Times. “This obviously impedes development in the real sense,” he said.
In July last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had allegorically criticised certain forms of welfare, calling them “revdi” or sweets distributed in return for votes. Days later, he said that such announcements increase the burden on taxpayers and stop the country from becoming self-reliant.
Around the same time, the Supreme Court heard several rounds of arguments in a public interest litigation filed by BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay, asking to outlaw the “promise of irrational freebies” and “private goods” made by parties during election campaigns in order to “lure voters in their favour”.
In September, the Supreme Court referred Upadhyay’s petition to a three-judge bench. The case is pending before the court.