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    Election expert criticizes doling out political freebies to appease voters

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    Election expert criticizes doling out political freebies to appease voters

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    CNCB-TV18 spoke to the former Chief Election Commissioner of India T Krishnamurthy, Senior Advocate at the SC Sanjay Hegde and Major General Anil Verma (Retd.), Head of Association for Democratic Reforms, in the backdrop of the Supreme Court's observation that freebies doled out by political parties to appease voters are a serious issue and taxpayers have the right to raise questions about it.

    T Krishnamurthy, the Former Chief Election Commissioner of India, on Thursday said that there is a difference between what is promised before election and after forming government. "Whatever they do after forming government has to be subject to the vote of the legislature," he added.
    The ex-Chief Election Commissioner of India as well as Sanjay Hegde, Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court and Major General Anil Verma (Retd.), Head of Association for Democratic Reforms, spoke to CNBC-TV18 on Thursday in the backdrop of the the Supreme Court's observation that freebies doled out by political parties to appease voters are a serious issue and taxpayers have the right to raise questions about it.
    "Taxpayers may raise concerns about spending public money on developmental works, rather than handouts," the court said on Thursday while hearing a PIL seeking a ban on political parties promising ‘freebies’ to attract voters in the run-up to elections.
    While commenting on the extent to which the judiciary can play a role in such matters, Hegde said, “What happens if the SC lays down guidelines and those are not followed?” He added that there are no judiciary manageable standards as some may just argue that at least the poor get something at the election time.
    According to him, the real issue is the "outright bribes given by the politicians". He believes that there could be a regulatory mechanism to have a check on it as every politician makes promises and voters keep falling for it.
    Verma also said he thinks this is not a concern of the judiciary. He said that there is no concrete definition of freebies. It is the government's duty to reduce inequality in the country. Therefore, guidelines could be laid but they have to be decided between politicians, people and the executive, he said.
    Talking about the election commission’s role in it, T. Krishnamurthy, said, “Even assuming it's a bribery (freebie), the election commission can only file an FIR.” He added that there must be some clarity and consensus among political parties to bring about some discipline regarding this.
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