The debate over campaign gifts is not one of right and wrong

As the Supreme Court ponders the recent debate over freebies that political parties have squabbled over, the important question is not whether giving allowances is right or wrong, but whether it’s viable and under what measure ?

Former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi pointed out that in 2013 the Supreme Court said that although gifts interfere with free and fair elections – they influence people’s minds – but this is not a corrupt practice. The court then returned the responsibility to the electoral commission to call all the political parties, discuss with them and define the guidelines.

“The political parties then threw themselves on the commission saying that what we are announcing to our voters is our legitimate right. So a legal solution cannot be found, it is up to the political parties of the opposition to remind voters what were the false promises made, which could not It is up to the media to analyze all the promises that are not kept, so let the voters decide, you have to leave something for the voters to decide,” Quraishi said.

Here is a list of states where the growth rate of public debt is higher than the growth of GSDP most of the time over the past five years, which has resulted in an increase in the debt-to-GSDP ratio in these states, according to the ‘State Finances: A Risk Analysis’ report published by RBI in June.

State 2021-22 2022-23
Bihar -5.5 -0.3
Kerala 0.5 -0.06
Punjab 1.4 N / A
Rajasthan 2.9 -0.7
West Bengal 8.4 0.6

However, state governments have placed the same blame on the door of the Center.

“Over the past seven years, the Center has more than doubled its outstanding debt. Who is going to pay this debt? Won’t these debts be paid by Indian children? It’s not as if the debt of the state was paid by the children of the state and the debt of the union is paid by God,” said Palanivel Thiagarajan, the Finance Minister of Tamil Nadu.

He asked why the Center’s budget deficit each year is worse than most states. “Why is the devolution to the States continually decreasing every year and they are not able to give the fair share that the Union Finance Commission has said they should give? So it’s a prank,” he added.

As the cliché goes, bad economics often make good politics. But ultimately, the onus falls on the taxpayer. Nothing is really free. Someone always pays the price.

Yet in a country where inequalities of outcome and opportunity are growing, the poor and marginalized, periodically struggling sections of society, including certain sectors and small businesses, need a helping hand from l ‘State.

As Congress Spokesman Gaurav Vallabh recently stated, “Why are small sums or aid given to the poor called ‘free’ (rewri), while gratuities given to the rich via tax rates? taxation, exemptions and write-offs are ‘necessary incentives’ (gajak)?

Experts believe that the debate on gifts must take place in Parliament. “It’s a complete judicial overreach. It’s a debate that needs to take place between our politicians and our voters as a collective society in the spirit of democracy. It’s not a debate that can be led by a body of experts specially created outside the political process. The right place for this debate is in Parliament, in the Gram Sabhas and between our politicians and our constituents,” said Yamini Aiyar, president of the Center for Policy Research.

First post: STI


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