By LE Desk
Chennai, March 31: Deploring the freebies culture in Tamil Nadu to woo voters, the Madras High Court on Wednesday advised leaders of the political parties to stop the practice and engage in promoting infrastructural facilities.
The court’s observations came while admitting a writ petition from M Chandramohan from Tirunelveli district praying for a direction to the authorities concerned to convert the reserved Vasudevanallur Assembly constituency into a general one.
The petitioner wanted enabling of all communities to be candidate in the upcoming election and uphold the spirit of the Constitution of India.
“Each party tries to outdo each other in terms of populist promises. If one party promises monthly assistance of Rs 1,000 to women household heads, there is a counter offer of Rs 1,500. It goes on. The result is people started having a mindset that they could make a living out of freebies,” a Division Bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and B Pugalendhi said.
A trend has been created that whoever avails loan from banks does not repay them, expecting waiver of loans during election, the court said. In this way, people themselves get corrupted by the political parties, it said, news agency PTI reported.
The way in which the parties throw their promises, which are unreasonable and unworkable, are really unwanted, the high court said.
“Unfortunately, freebies are not connected with job creation, development, or agriculture. Voters are lured to cast votes in their favour by these magical promises. Once in 5 years, this tamasha is being continued for decades together. Promises have always remained as promises. Most of them except freebies are not implemented,” it said.
The Bench noted that every candidate has to shell out about Rs 20 crore in the election, as many of the people have become corrupt by selling their votes for one or a few thousands, biriyani and liquor.
“It is a stark reality. If that is so, how could the people expect good leaders. Do people, who sell their votes, have any moral right to question their leaders,” the Bench wondered.
The judges opined that if money spent for freebies is utilised constructively by creating job opportunities, building infrastructure like dams and lakes and better facilities and incentives to the agriculture, which has become an ‘orphan’ in the country as most of the people have quit it as it does not provide a secure income, definitely, there will be social uplift and progress of the State.
The political parties should be prohibited or prevented from giving election promises, which are capable of adding burden on the public exchequer, especially, the State facing a financial crunch, it said.
Otherwise, for the sake of finance, the State has to increase the number of liquor shops.
Every political party is bound to make promises to voters giving their social policies and plans for improving the standard of living of the people by providing clean governance, infrastructure, especially, providing basic amenities like water, transportation and health.
But, the promises made by the political parties are aimed at clinching power, it said.
In addition to colour televisions, laptops, mixers, fans and grinders among others, every family cardholder in the State is given 20 kgs of rice free every month.
That apart, during festival seasons like Pongal and Diwali, public money is drained.
In fact, the celebrations are being taken care of by the government by providing free dhoties, sarees and items necessary for cooking and making pongal and expenses for celebrations.
“These kinds of freebies and money given during festivals, though it would be justified that the government is taking care of the people’s needs, in fact are making the people lazy and dampening their working culture,” it said “In the process, the honest tax-payer is made a mute spectator of these expenditures by the government,” it said.
Consequently, even for any normal work, no force is available in Tamil Nadu and it has to depend on the migrant workers from northeast and northern states like Manipur, Meghalaya, Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha, the Bench said.
Most of the North Indian workers are employed in agriculture work, hotels, industries, shops and saloons in Tamil Nadu.
“It is not as if everyone in Tamil Nadu have become an entrepreneur or persons with resources and if we go into details, most of the persons including the wealthy are expecting freebies,” the court said.
The way in which things are happening today, one would not be surprised to see that migrant workers would be owners of the properties in due course and the sons of the soil will become workers working under them.
It may be the only achievement, probably, the political parties have attained through election promises by providing freebies for the past 20 years, the judges said.