Political parties like AAP, Akali Dal, SP, want to grab power at any cost, come what may (All images courtesy: ANI)
Every time assembly elections are imminent, political parties start making generous promises of freebies and try to outwit each other in the game. The question is not whether these promises can be met or not or whether states have enough resources to enable the governments to implement them in future. Even a cursory look at which party has announced what kind of freebies to woo voters shows how non serious and noncommittal these political parties are on the question of tackling basic problems plaguing the states. None of the parties, so far, have come out with a road map to improve the governance and delivery system.
In the race to outwit each other, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has promised to transfer Rs 1,000 per month into the account of every woman in Punjab-virtue signalling women empowerment, 300 units of free electricity per month for every household and 24-hour power supply, and free power supply in rural areas for all. He did not stop here -he went further ahead and promised Goan voters- 80 per cent job reservation for locals, a government job for an unemployed person in every family, unemployment allowance of Rs 3,000 per month for every unemployed person and so on.
The ruling party in Uttar Pradesh, BJP, was not to be left behind and announced free rations for all those below the poverty line and Antodaya card holders and payment of Rs 1,000 every month to all the daily wage earners. Clearly, political parties have little or no stakes in tackling serious issues engulfing the common man and are coming out with freebies galore unmindful of their consequences on governance and financial health of states.
Leading the march in this regard are political parties like AAP, Akali Dal, SP etc., which want to grab power at any cost, come what may. They have been in power in the past so they know that these promises can lure votes. If and when they come to power, they can always junk these promises as the people are in no position to ensure implementation of the false promises made to them. There is no recourse, no rights provided to the electorate for punishing the political parties who promise but do not deliver, except to patiently wait for five years for the next elections. Hence, all these political parties make promises brazenly and have developed the habit of acting irresponsibly thereafter. They have nothing to lose when they fail to garner votes, but they perpetuate irresponsible unprincipled behaviour, which vitiates the electoral atmosphere everywhere.
Instead of announcing freebies on the eve of elections, political parties need to come out with a clear road map with definitive time limits to solve the problems being faced by our people for years. The question that needs to be asked is why none of the political outfits ever announce a well-considered programme to uplift our education system and provide world class education to each and every child, who has been deprived of a decent level of education for decades. Why have none of the political parties ever addressed the problem of our poor health system and come out with a plan of action as a poll promise. Sadly, political parties who ruled or are ruling the nation and various states , have never even bothered to announce a well-considered plan to provide jobs to millions of our youth who are sitting at home idle , instead of announcing unemployment doles to the unemployed- a promise which has never been fulfilled by any of the current political parties , even after promises were made by some of them, on the eve of elections, in the past too.
It seems that these parties, propagating freebies, in state after state, just to befool people and garner their votes, neither possess the skill, nor the knowledge or understanding of the issues or the will to act to solve any of the problems facing our population. They undoubtedly have mastered the skill to befool our gullible voters by promising them the sky and then suffer amnesia thereafter. They immediately forget public interest, and prioritise their own self-interest, and get busy in filling their personal coffers during their halcyon days in power. The time has come for people to discard these liars and freebie distributors. The people have to remember that the promise of free electricity and water is not going to change their lives in any way. It has not changed the lives of those getting the three hundred units of free power or few hundred litres of water in a state like Delhi, neither these kinds of freebies will make people happier or enable them to prosper in the poll bound states, in future.
The people have to call the bluff of all those parties, who have zero delivery when seated in government, but have got into the habit of announcing lots of freebies just before elections. Let the electorate vote on performance and evict these unethical freebooters now.
(Vijay Shankar Pandey retired from the Indian Administrative Service. He has an established record of raising his voice against corruption in public life)