“Rs 15 lakh will be deposited in the account of each Indian.” Will this promise be called ‘free ki rewari’ pre-election distribution or not? What will be the announcement of giving Rs 6000 to farmers before elections? What will be required to increase the free ration scheme until the elections? And what are the announcements like giving 3 LPG cylinders free, free bus rides for women, scooty, laptop to female students, Rs 4000 to fishermen in the election manifesto? Can they be called presents or gifts?
PM Modi and the BJP may have made these announcements or similar announcements in different elections, but now the PM himself is questioning these announcements. He is targeting the opposition party, especially Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party, saying that these ads are distributed for free. The objection raised by the Prime Minister about gifts is raising questions as to why he is saying it now? Is the economic situation of the government bad and that is why he is getting awareness or is he apprehensive about Arvind Kejriwal’s party announcements?
To answer these questions further, let us first know how the BJP’s attitude in this matter has been so far. The first was about the 2014 elections when Narendra Modi became the prime ministerial candidate.
During the campaign for the 2014 general elections, Modi had said that his government would deposit Rs 15 lakh in every Indian’s account if black money from abroad was brought back. But just a year after coming to power, BJP had said it was a jumla. Then BJP President Amit Shah himself called them ‘jumla’ i.e. these populist promises which are made just to win elections. Such was the scheme of Ujjwala. The government keeps praising the success of the Ujjwala scheme, but when the news comes that free LPG connections were given to the poor, but the gas has become so expensive that the poor cannot refill the cylinder.
Similar populist ads were made before the 2019 election. It focused mostly on farmers. It was said that under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, small and marginal farmers would get Rs 6,000 annually. The plan came into effect on February 24, 2019. Two months later, general elections were held in the country.
It was also claimed before the election that farmers’ income would double by 2022. Questions are raised about this time and again. Ahead of the 2019 elections, the BJP had made 75 promises for India’s 75 years of independence at Sankalp Patra for the Lok Sabha elections.
UP 2022: BJP’s election promises
- BJP promised to increase financial assistance under Mukhyamantri Kanya Sumangala Yojana from Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000.
- He promised to give a pension of Rs 1,500 per month to every widow and destitute woman.
- It promises to provide free peeping to deserving female college students under the ‘Rani Laxmi Bai’ scheme.
- Under the ‘Chief Minister’s Mass Marriage Subsidy Scheme’, assistance of up to Rs.1 lakh for marriage of daughters from poor families.
- Promise of free travel on public transport for women over 60 years of age.
- Announcement of two free LPG cylinders on the occasion of Holi and Diwali to all beneficiaries of Ujjwala Yojana.
Food plan in the elections!
The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, which started during the pandemic, ended last year (November 2021). In view of this, CM Yogi Adityanath became a partner in the central government’s scheme and announced that it would distribute free ration till Holi for the people of UP. Since then, 10 kg ration was given free to eligible UP card holders every month. The Center had also extended the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana till March 2022. Elections were held in UP only from February 10 to March 7.
“Free Rewari” in Manipur?
JP Nadda had released the manifesto on behalf of the BJP in the assembly elections held in Manipur this year. He pledged to provide two-wheelers to meritorious students, increase the monthly pension of senior citizens to Rs 1,000 and create a start-up fund of Rs 100 crore. Nadda had said that “laptops will also be provided to all meritorious class 12 passers”.
Gifts in Rajasthan, Goa too
In the Goa Legislative Assembly 2022, BJP had said in its manifesto that the party would provide 3 LPG cylinders free to every household and 5000 monthly employment allowance to the unemployed youth. In the Rajasthan assembly elections in 2018, the BJP had promised a subsidy of Rs 5,000 to the unemployed. Along with this, BJP had also promised to provide 30 thousand government jobs every year in Rajasthan, doubling the income of farmers.
More news from the country
West Bengal 2021: BJP Manifesto
Ahead of the West Bengal elections in 2021, Amit Shah had said that every year farmers in India get Rs 6,000, adding Rs 4,000 from the state government, a total of Rs 10,000 will be given to farmers every year. He had said-
- With Krishak Suraksha Yojana, we will give an assistance of Rs 4,000 every year to all landless farmers.
- Annapurna Rasoi will start providing nutritious food three times a day at a cost of Rs.5.
- The salary of tea garden workers will be increased to Rs 350 per day.
- The BJP government will do the job of providing an annual assistance of Rs 6,000 to the fishermen.
The ‘free’ debate has now begun. The matter has gone to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court on Thursday said that the promise and distribution of gifts by political parties during elections is a serious problem as it is hurting the economy.
The Supreme Court was hearing a PIL filed by Ashwini Upadhyay. He demanded a ban on political parties promising “freebies” to woo voters ahead of elections. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) opposed this plea and said that schemes for the socio-economic welfare of the deserving and underprivileged masses cannot be termed as ‘free’. The party accused the petitioner of having strong links with the BJP and pursuing a particular political agenda.
This allegation by the AAP is significant because the feud between the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party has been escalating since July over the gifts. On July 16, Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the “Rewari culture” as “giving free facilities to the people” during the inauguration of the Bundelkhand Expressway in Uttar Pradesh.
Soon after this statement by the Prime Minister, Arvind Kejriwal had said, “I am giving free excellent education to 18 million middle class and poor children of Delhi.” Earlier, the future of 18 thousand children was ruined. I am doing his future so what crime am I doing.. He had asked if it was to distribute Rewari. In a statement on August 8, Arvind Kejriwal hit back and said that waiving “Rs 10 lakh crore” of corporate sector loans is free.
AAP chief Kejriwal on Thursday said, “Never in the last 75 years has the government imposed tax on staple grains. The tax on petrol and diesel is more than 1000 crores. Now they are saying that all free government things should end, fees should be charged in government schools, hospitals. They are saying that free ration should be stopped. He asked, “Where did all the money from the Center go ? They waive their friends’ loans with that government money. He has also waived the taxes of his billionaire friends. But the public has to pay the tax.
Kejriwal said, “The Center has repeatedly reiterated that they have no money, it has reduced the money given to the states. The tax collection is much higher than in 2014 but they have no money. Where is the money going?
So the question remains why is PM Modi repeatedly mentioning ‘free ki rewari’ or freebies? Are the allegations made by Arvind Kejriwal true or is it a problem because of his growing popularity? This question is because recent poll reports show that Arvind Kejriwal’s popularity has increased.