Dhankhar slams freebie culture: ‘Political intoxication of people requires serious thought’ | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Dhankhar slams freebie culture: ‘Political intoxication of people requires serious thought’

By, Udaipur
Aug 23, 2023 12:07 AM IST

Vice President and chairman of the upper house of Parliament Jagdeep Dhankhar stoked a fresh debate on freebies on Tuesday when he said “political intoxication of the people by distribution of largesse” requires serious deliberation.

Vice President and chairman of the upper house of Parliament Jagdeep Dhankhar stoked a fresh debate on freebies on Tuesday when he said “political intoxication of the people by distribution of largesse” requires serious deliberation.

Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar. (PTI)
Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar. (PTI)

Chairing the concluding function of the 9th Commonwealth India Region Conference on Tuesday, Dhankhar also maintained that ”temples of democracy” have become “hotbeds of disturbance and disruptions” these days, a reference to regular happenings in Parliament.

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Dhankhar’s questioning of the freebies comes amidst a heated ongoing debate between the government and the Opposition parties over the subject, one started by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year when he spoke of the “revri” (offerings) culture that was taking over politics.

The Prime Minister’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has accused rivals of attracting votes through freebies that evfentually harm the state’e economy. Other parties have accused the BJP of doing exactly the same at the state and even at the Centre.

In the recent Karnataka election, the Congress announced cash sops for unemployed and farmers and sops including free bus rides for women. The party won the election and has since had to deal with a barrage of criticism from the BJP on the source of funds for these sops.

Dhankhar on Tuesday questioned the financial fallout of such freebies. Pointing to the poor financial health of some states, Dhankhar said, “Political intoxication of the people by distribution of largesse requires serious deliberation. What we see all around… look at the advertisements, look at the performance of state governments. Look at how the public exchequer is being channelised. Who has to check it? It doesn’t require one to be a great economist to know that your finances must measurably go for capital expenditure.”

Urging the lawmakers to think about the largesse, the Vice President said, “This political intoxication of reaching out to the pocket of the people, by greasing their palms or their pockets, may be a short-term success story, but for the nation, a long-term damage, and we have in the world countries that have been bled because of such kind of situations.”

To be sure, opposition parties claim that they have given up their rights to tax with the GST Act, that the devolution of central revenue to states is far lower than the mandated 41%, and that many of the Union government’s welfare schemes, whose recipients the BJP targets as “labharatis” or beneficiaries during polls, are actually in state subjects or those in the concurrent list.

The Vice President also referred to the increasing culture of disruptions in Parliament, how “recurrent disruptions result in “squandering of valuable Parliamentary hours” and reminded lawmakers that “public representatives are expected to put people before politics, decency before division”.

“As a consequence of such worrisome scenario, parliament and legislatures are fast surging into irrelevance. This gruesome situation ill augurs for democratic values,” he said.

The Rajya Sabha Chairman’s speech assumes importance in the backdrop of the last monsoon session that saw regular disruptions over the Opposition’s demand for the Prime Minister’s statement on Manipur. During the session, two AAP lawmakers, Sanjay Singh and Raghav Chadha were suspended. The two AAP leaders, along with Trinamool’s floor leader Derek O’Brian and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh also face charges beforethe privileges committee.

“Our Constitution provides freedom of speech to everyone, but there is greater freedom of speech, given to the Legislatures and parliamentarians. If they say something in the parliament or legislature, ordinary citizens cannot take them to court. There can be no defamation, no civil case, no criminal case, great opportunity, a great privilege,” the Rajya Sabha chairman said.

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