Sat, 02 Dec 2023

New Delhi [India], October 9 (ANI): Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said that freebies announced ahead of polls sport the "tadka of populism" and political parties find that it is difficult to implement such promises and either do not make good their pledges or stop it entirely after they come to power.

"As you said there is some announcement in one state or some other in another state, don't know why they forget for five years and at the end make announcements one month or 15 days - (ahead of poll dates announcements). Anyway, that is within the domain of the state governments," the CEC said.

The chief poll officer was responding to questions at a media briefing on how the commission was reining in such practices and what according to them was the definition of a freebie.

"Such freebies announcements have the 'tadka' of populism. Implementing the freebies and otherwise, both are difficult (choices)," CEC Kumar said.

"You are aware that the Commission had issued a proforma which is in the public domain...This proforma basically says that political parties have the right to say in their manifesto what they are going to do. At the same time, the voters also have the right to know when they will be implemented, how much, and how. The proforma asks what is your debt to GDP ratio, interest payments to total revenue receipts, whether you will breach FRBM (Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act) targets, whether you will cut allocation in other schemes to fulfil the manifesto, and whether they will put additional taxes (on citizens). So, the intention was to bring everything into the public domain," CEC Kumar said.

"Another thing is present versus future generations. Are you not mortgaging the future generations? So there is a balance that needs to come so that voters must know the picture that is coming out of the financial fundamentals," the chief added.

Further, CEC said the public has the right to know how the political parties would fulfil those freebies so that they can make an informed choice.

"The commission has already issued this circular (proforma) and done the political party consultations. But as you are aware, the matter is subjudice and the commision will act as soon as there is clarity and the decision is available on the subject," the CEC said.

The Election Commission today announced the schedule for assembly polls in Mizoram, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Telangana.

Polls will be held in Mizoram on November 7, Chhattisgarh on November 7 and November 17, Madhya Pradesh on November 17, Rajasthan on November 23 and Telangana on November 30.

Counting of votes will take place on December 3 in all the states.

Of the five states, polling in Chhattisgarh will be held in two phases. The Model Code of Conduct has come into force with the announcement of poll dates.

The elections to five states are crucial as they are being held months before the Lok Sabha elections in April-May next year.

Congress and BJP are the key players in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Telangana is expected to witness a triangular contest between the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi, Congress and BJP. (ANI)

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