Freebie culture makes people of Tamil Nadu lazy, laments HC

‘Do those who sell their votes have any moral right to question their leaders?’

April 01, 2021 01:30 am | Updated 01:30 am IST - CHENNAI

The Madras High Court on Monday expressed its strong displeasure over the way in which political parties in the State were vying with each other to garner votes by offering freebies such as television sets, fans, mixer grinders, laptops, washing machines and even monthly cash doles instead of concentrating more on promising and delivering jobs, infrastructure development, improving health, transport facilities and agriculture.

Purity of poll process

Justices N. Kirubakaran and B. Pugalenthi lamented that the freebie culture had made the people lazy and dampened their spirit to work hard. They opined that promising freebies should also be declared a corrupt practice since it vitiates the purity of the election process and influences the voters. It was pointed out that if one party promises a cash dole of ₹1,000 another comes up with a counter promise of ₹1,500 a month.

If this trend continues, a day might come soon when some political party in the State would offer to visit the houses of voters and cook food for them every day and another party might offer not only to cook but also to feed the voters, the judges wrote in their verdict.

The court also came down heavily on voters who accept money for exercising their franchise, thereby making the entire democratic exercise a mockery.

“It is stated that every candidate has to shell out about ₹20 crore in the election to an Assembly constituency as many voters have become corrupt and sell their votes for one or a few thousands, biriyani and a quarter [liquor] bottle. It is the stark reality. If that is so, how could people expect good leaders? Do people, who sell their votes, have any moral right to question their leaders? In a democracy, people get the leaders they deserve,” the Bench observed.

Further stating that the tax payers remain mute spectators to the public exchequer being drained on distributing freebies, the judges said that people of the State had become so lazy that migrant workers from the north and north eastern parts of the country had to be employed in every other field of work be it hotels, industries, shops and saloons. Migrants are employed even for agricultural work in the State, they stressed.

“The way in which things are happening today, one would not be surprised to see that migrant workers would be the owners of the movable and immovable properties here in due course and the sons of the soil will become workers under them and it may be the only achievement, probably, the political parties have attained through election promises by providing freebies for the past 20 years,” the Division Bench said.

Impressing on the need to arrest such practice at the earliest, the court posed a series of 20 questions to the Centre as well as the Election Commission of India and sought a reply by April 26. The court wanted to know whether the Centre had taken steps to enact a law governing the promises made by political parties in their election manifestos and the action taken so far by the Election Commission of India against parties which make irrational promises.

The observations were made and the questions posed while passing orders on a writ petition to de-reserve the Vasudevanallur Assembly constituency.

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