Spending tax-payers' money to pull votes
The AP government presented yet another whopping Budget for the year 2023-24 for Rs 2.79 lakh crore unmindful of its financial position or displaying any commitment to any fiscal discipline.
The AP government presented yet another whopping Budget for the year 2023-24 for Rs 2.79 lakh crore unmindful of its financial position or displaying any commitment to any fiscal discipline. The ruling party, YSRCP, which came to power seeking 'just one chance' to be in power to transform the lives of the people forever through its welfare promises, the staple of which were the 'Nav Ratnas' displayed its unflinching perseverance with the same this year too. It has given a huge slice of its Budget to welfare once again reiterating its commitment.
The allocation for the Direct Benefit Transfers stands this year at: Rs 54,228.36 crore. Pensions take away Rs 21.434.72 crores and rythuBharosa takes away Rs 4,020 crore, vidya Deevena Rs 2,841.64 crore and Asara scheme is allotted Rs 6,700 and Cheyutha, Rs 5,000 crore. Several thousands of crores have also been marked for other schemes. It goes on showcasing all its money-sucking programmes and the Finance Minister, BugganaRajendranath, was only too happy to lay an emphasis on the same. The Chief Minister, Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy who is also the head of the party, took pride in the welfare measures to declare his government as a pro-people and pro-welfare government.
The fact remains that it is only a pro-vote government seeking to ensure the votes of various sections of the society to the ruling party again and again in the elections by spending tax-payers' money on these sections in the name of welfare. In essence, the government is paying an advance to the people every year in the name of the schemes to make sure that they vote for the ruling party again in the next elections. This is obvious and giving it any other colour will be wrong.
The ruling party itself is campaigning now that welfare measures might be stopped by the rivals if voted to power. Word that "only Jagan Mohan Reddy has the commitment to the poor and the deprived sections of the society and only his government would continue the schemes after the next elections" is being spread in the 2024 poll bound State. In fact, even the main Opposition, the TDP, too got rattled by it to the extent that its leader Nara Lokesh, had to reiterate at his public meetings that his party would continue the welfare schemes and direct money transfers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had already cautioned the nation, ignoring the fact that even the ruling party at the Centre is all for 'revadi,' against the culture of freebies. A Public Interest Litigation was filed in the Supreme Court by a ruling party lawmaker seeking strict regulations against the practice. The Election Commission of India later released a standard pro-forma to be used by political parties to disclose how they would fund their poll promises.
The CM is quite unmindful of the caution as well as the advice given by the Centre. A decade ago, the SC, while dealing with petitions on this hearing Subramaniam Balaji v.the State of Tamil Nadu, ruled that although the distribution of freebies influences people and "shakes the root of free and fair elections," it cannot be held as corruption or bribery and that the court cannot tell the government how to spend public money. Anyway, the social welfare regime should not be misused but who cares as long as freebies fetch votes?