Though it is not clear what the guidelines are that the Election Commission is preparing on the freebies that political parties can or cannot bestow...
Though it is not clear what the guidelines are that the Election Commission is preparing on the freebies that political parties can or cannot bestow on the electorate on the eve of elections, the Commission needs to tread warily. Its idealism that parties promising to deliver on the Directive Principles of State Policy should not be curbed, and that, at the same time, no party should be allowed to promise TV sets, mixers, grinders and even mangalsutras (the last probably to both married and unmarried women!) seems to reckon without the ground reality that political parties are not honest enough to set out in their respective manifestos the freebies that would be conferred on voters in the event of one party or another getting elected. Promises, such as provision of drinking water, road connectivity, establishment of schools and hospitals and meeting the needs of the deprived sections of the population and of people in remote and inhospitable areas have been made by almost every political party since the inception of elections in India. But their fulfillment by those very parties, once in power, perhaps does not bear looking into!
Even though the Directive Principles of State Policy laid down by the Constitution are not justiciable, they are mandatory for implementation by the Government. But has any of the governments that India has had since turning a republic ever tried to implement any of them? Why should political parties be allowed to make such promises as they have no intention of fulfilling even with taxpayer’s money? It would, on the contrary, be more honest to promise to distribute colour TV sets, etc, because such promises earn votes.