‘Freebie’ Antagonism and Abolition of Social Welfare Schemes!

Implementing the policies of privatization – liberalization – globalization and turning the country into a hunting ground for corporate capitalists; opening up the natural resources and human labour to the plundering; privatization of the services sector; completely halting all welfare schemes: this is the plan of the ruling classes to recolonize the country.

The BJP has filed a case in the Supreme Court seeking a ban on political parties from announcing freebies in elections, even though it had announced freebies ahead of the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections held on December 2022. By this, the BJP is proving its Brahministic character of words differing from its actions.

“Freebies are destroying the country’s economy”; “Selfish announcements of freebies will prevent the country from becoming self-reliant, increase burden on honest taxpayers and prevent investment in new technologies”, PM Modi said. “Today, in our country, attempts are being made to collect votes by distributing free revdis (freebies)”, Modi said at several meetings in the recent past.

These are triggers for discussions that the state governments and the state parties are destroying the country by announcing freebies for their vote bank.

A PIL was filed in the Supreme Court by Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, an office bearer of the Delhi BJP, seeking a direction to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to freeze the election symbol or cancel the registration of a political party that promises or distributes “irrational freebies” from public funds before elections.

Even though the court refused to revoke the recognition of the parties, it said that “ debate on freebie issue important for country’s welfare”; the Court spoke for its part on behalf of the BJP and ordered that a committee would be set up to look into the freebies. In the 2013 S Subramaniam Balaji vs Government of Tamil Nadu case, the Supreme Court had earlier ruled that promises made by political parties, including the promise of free gifts, cannot be called bribery or corruption; but the case was referred to a three-judge bench seeking re-examination of the verdict.

Also Read: Saffron-Corporate coalition regime looting the country!

While these discussions are going on, RBI Monetary Policy Committee member Ashima Goyal said, “Freebies are never free… specially harmful are subsidies that distort prices. Freebies come at the cost of low quality health, education, air and water that hurt poor the most”.

Not only the Supreme Court and the Reserve Bank, but the Election Commission also stepped in to prove that it was also a wing of the BJP. “Offering/distribution of any freebies either before or after the election is a policy decision of the party concerned. The Election Commission cannot regulate state policies and decisions”, the Election Commission of India (ECI) told the Supreme Court in April. In the very next month the ECI said that it would re-consider its decision.

In October, the ECI said, “Empty poll promises have far-reaching ramifications. We cannot overlook the undesirable impact inadequate disclosures on election promises have on financial sustainability”. Further, it  proposed to amend the model code and require political parties to provide the financial viability of their electoral promises.

The very next day, the Union Law Minister said that the government was in talks with the Election Commission to amend the election laws. From this, we can understand that the Central Government and the Election Commission are working together to change the electoral laws in their favour.

Why is the BJP shouting so ferociously against freebies and welfare schemes? What is the need for the Supreme Court, the Reserve Bank of India and the Election Commission to line up?

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The charismatic schemes known as freebies are irritating the saffron-corporate fascist clique in two ways.

First, the Congress is not strong enough to compete at the all-India level as an alternative to the BJP, which is moving towards unitary rule through legal means. At the same time, regional parties like the DMK in Tamil Nadu, the Trinamool in West Bengal, the Bharatiya (Telangana) Rashtra Samithi in Telangana, the Biju Janata Dal in Odisha, the Janata Dal (United) in Bihar and the CPI(M) in Kerala are strong at state levels. The vote bank and popularity of these parties is based on the charismatic and social welfare schemes that they are implementing.

Secondly, a few lakh crore rupees is being spent on behalf of the Union and state governments on these schemes. The corporate bourgeoisie, including the Ambani-Adani, regards this expenditure as useless. They are opposed to social welfare schemes because they are an obstacle to their looting in service sector. They want the government to stop spending on free – charismatic schemes and give it directly to them to help increasing their assets. That is why they have fielded their henchmen and are staging a anti-freebie protest drama.

The BJP had already understood that if it has to reduce the influence of the regional parties, it will have to stall the free-charismatic schemes and social welfare schemes that they are announcing and implementing. The BJP has been reducing the revenue of the state governments through GST and by increasing the non-shared tax levied on fuels. Because of this, state governments are constantly lamenting that they do not have enough revenue to implement either the charismatic schemes or social welfare schemes mentioned in their election promises; and as a result they increase taxes on the people. The performance of the DMK-led government in Tamil Nadu is a good example of this.

Fulfilling the election promises require mounting of the tax burden on the people. So, it is inevitable that the hatred towards the state parties in power will increase among the people. From time to time, the BJP has been asking why all the schemes announced by the state government have not been implemented. The BJP further says that the state governments have made such promises only to deceive the people and get votes. Even if the state government announces any free or welfare scheme to deal with them, the cost has to be met by levying additional taxes on the people. The state parties are trapped in this vicious cycle.

At the same time, the BJP is also aware that if they have to compete with these parties and win, they too have to make such free – charismatic announcements. That is why, while Modi is talking at one place that freebies are destroying the country, they are announcing that two cylinders a year will be provided free of cost in Gujarat. Apart from Gujarat, states like Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh are also announcing and implementing freebies. During the last Lok Sabha elections, the Modi government had announced and implemented a scheme to deposit Rs. 6,000 annually into the bank accounts of farmers. It is to be noted that their another promise of doubling the minimum support price (MSP) to double the income of farmers has not been implemented.

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The BJP considers that the complete abolition of free-charismatic schemes and welfare schemes is one of the vital preparations if its single-party dictatorship is to be established; since their current method involves making use of legal means to win the competition with the state parties, they themselves are forced to announce such schemes – even if they are temporary. Otherwise, their very nature is not the Aam Aadmi Party’s Delhi model of winning with charismatic schemes. Their model is the Gujarat-UP model of dividing the people over caste-religious conflicts and winning.

The BJP says that what it is implementing is not free – charismatic schemes, they are welfare schemes that meet the basic needs of the people. This is what the DMK and the Aam Aadmi Party are saying. The Supreme Court says that it can distinguish between freebies and welfare schemes.

But, do these parties and the Supreme Court have the slightest interest in implementing social welfare schemes that meet the basic needs of the people? The fact is that no party has the plan or willingness to provide jobs to all, to ensure quality and free education – healthcare – drinking water for all,  provide shelter – transportation – communication at a very low cost.

This is because all these schemes are totally against the interest of the corporates. It is at this point that all the parties unite directly and indirectly. This is why they are ruling; the goal of privatization is to abolish welfare schemes of the people and to ensure that the government withdraws from the service sector and hand it over to the private sector. Anyone who crosses this limit cannot remain in power or in electoral politics.

That is why, when the Union government implements schemes that open up the service sector to corporate loot, the state governments are grumblingly accepting and implementing them. The new education policy, the labour laws, the Electricity Bill, etc., can be cited as examples of this.

The DMK’s plea of implicating itself in Ashwini Upadhyay’s case against freebies, exposed the fact that the BJP, which demeans what is done to the common man as freebie, has given lakhs of crores of rupees to the corporate capitalists as subsidies and loan waivers. This does not mean that the DMK has decided not to go along the path of serving the corporates. This is only a strategy to expose the BJP on the political stage and limit its pace.

Implementing the policies of privatization – liberalization – globalization and turning the country into a hunting ground for corporate capitalists; opening up the natural resources and human labour to the plundering; privatization of the services sector; completely halting all welfare schemes: this is the plan of the ruling classes to recolonize the country.

It is in line with this that the corporates, along with the saffron clique, are fascistizing the state and society. The saffron-corporate fascist forces are smashing the hurdles which prevent them from fully implementing their plans through legal means. As a part of this, they are fighting against free – charismatic schemes, counter-campaigning and exposing regional parties. Their aim is to abolish the welfare schemes in the name of eradicating the freebies and turn the people into paupers. Only by presenting an anti-fascist democratic agenda that includes welfare schemes, anti-fascist democratic forces – electoral political parties can mobilize the people, and also expose the hypocrisy of the BJP.



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