They should explain as to how they plan to fund ‘populist’ election manifesto: JP

With all the main traditional parties literally promising the moon and raining munificence on gullible voters running into about a lakh crore in their election manifestoes, this all-important question is just waiting to be asked.

Can the political parties -- be it Congress, Telugu Desam, YSR Congress, TRS -- explain as to from where the money will come to implement all the ambitious populist promises -- right from loan waiver to enhanced doles for students, unemployed, old and aged to uninterrupted power supply to farmers during the peak load time?

Well the pertinent question was raised by Lok Satta Party national president Jayaprakash Narayan who is contesting from Malkajgiri Lok Sabha constituency. Aghast to arrive at a figure of over Rs. 1 lakh crore for the ‘irrational and unrealistic’ promises to be implemented, Dr. Narayan said that at a testing time of State bifurcation, such wild assurances with an eye to garner votes could spell doom of the economy of both Telangana and the residuary State of Andhra Pradesh.

He said not even a single party had spoken about improving governance as enshrined in the Constitution. “The poor quality of education and health does not even merit a serious discussion in election while they determine poll outcomes in other countries,” he pointed out.

Can the issue of make-believe promises be raised with Election Commission? He said the EC has a limited role and wanted a political discussion among all parties. The system of distributing sops without focusing on productivity of people would in no way alleviate poverty or improve living standards of the poor, he reasoned.

The LSP chief said the YSR Congress ‘Amma Odi’ scheme promised Rs. 500, Rs. 700 and Rs.1,000 a month to school, intermediate and degree students in addition to the existing fee reimbursement scheme. There are about 1.3 crore school children in both government and private schools and 50 lakh college students. At this rate tThe party would require Rs.13,800 crore a year to fulfil this promise alone, he pointed out.

On supplying power to farm sector during daytime, the Lok Satta chief wondered how could the parties do so during peak load hours with existing huge demand-supply gap in power sector when the need of hour is to regulate the supply.

Referring to yet another promise of providing three-acre land to every farmer and a 120 square yard house to every poor family by the TRS, he wondered if it was in urban or rural areas. With a shortage of 1.8 crore houses in urban areas across the country due to shortage of land, it is an impossible promise to deliver, he added.