Chennai: Disapproving of the freebie culture during elections in Tamil Nadu, the Madras High Court on Wednesday said if this continued one day some political party would offer to visit households and cook food for them daily while a competing party would say they would not only cook but also feed the voters.
A bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran and B. Pugalenthi said that the freebie culture had made people lazy and dampened their spirit to work hard. Noting that every candidate apparently had to spend about Rs 20 crore in an Assembly constituency, “as many voters have become corrupt and sell their votes for one or a few thousands [of rupees], biriyani and quarter bottle [of alcohol],” the judge asked what moral right would voters have to question their leaders. “In a democracy, people get the leaders they deserve,” the court pointed out.
In Tamil Nadu, voters were provided colour TV sets, fans, mixer grinders and laptops as part of electoral promises. Now the AIADMK has promised free washing machines and both DMK and AIADMK have announced cash aid for women. The court, while dismissing a petition relating seeking de-reserving an Assembly constituency, regretted that parties were focussing on these instead of providing jobs, creating infrastructure and improving health, transport and agriculture sectors.
The judges felt that the announcement of freebies in the manifestos must be declared as “corrupt practice” since it vitiates the “purity” of the election process and influences voters.
According to the judges, the people of Tamil Nadu had become “so lazy” that migrant workers from north and northeast had to be employed in hotels, salons, shops and even agricultural work in the State.
“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 court felt.
The bench asked the Centre and Election Commission to respond to 20 questions posed by it on curtailing freebies by April 26.