Loan write-offs for the rich are freebies, not welfare schemes: RJD
Patna: At a time when a large section of people in this country are struggling to achieve financial empowerment, there are two types of ideologies running parallel in the country. One is to provide help to people who are financially deprived and the other is terming it “Muft Ki Revari” freebies.
Both the ideologies are directly linked to the Lok Sabha and assembly elections.
In a poor state like Bihar, it is extremely important to make a distinction between what are freebies and what are not.
Mritunjay Tiwari, national spokesperson of the RJD, told IANS: “When any government makes policies to benefit people of deprived sections, it’s called welfare. Nowadays, leaders of a particular party (BJP) are calling it freebies which is absolutely wrong.”
“The actual meaning of freebies means loan waiver to the industrialists. They are quite capable of managing their finances and leading a good life. I want to ask the leaders of the BJP who are crying about the government’s welfare policies related to the common people of the state. During the 2014 Lok Sabha election, BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi promised to give Rs 15 lakh to every person of this country. That was actually “Muft Ki Revari” which later on turned “Jhasa or Jumla”. A number of industrial friends of the BJP’s top leadership got loan write-offs like Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, Lalit Modi and many others. That was actually freebies to them who later turned fugitives,” Tiwari said.
The Nitish Kumar government has started a bicycle policy for school going girl students, “Poshak Yojana” (School dress policy), Rs 25,000 to girls for passing intermediate (Class 12) and Rs 50,000 to girls becoming graduates, and diesel subsidies to farmers for a limited period during droughts.
As the government in the state has changed it gives a strong message to the Narendra Modi government at the Centre. The preparations for the crucial Lok Sabha elections in 2024 have started and the BJP is feeling the challenge from the government of the Mahagathbandhan.
In the run-up to every election, promises in education, health, limited free power, free water used to be made by different political parties. However, some of them also promise to distribute laptops, television sets, smartphones with internet facility, bicycles, bikes, monthly fuel quota. CM Nitish Kumar is currently providing 10 litres diesel subsidy to farmers in Bihar per month as 35 out of 38 districts are facing a drought-like situation.
The government welfare policies or freebies are financed by the money of the taxpayers.
Before distinguishing between freebies and the welfare policies for the common people, one needs to understand that certain services like electricity, water, sewerage, transport, health, education cannot be obtained in an individual capacity. They need to be channelized through the government of the state and the Centre. In case the government is giving subsidies to the people for taking services in these sectors, it can be termed as welfare.
It’s up to the governments of the states to evaluate how robust their economies are and how much they invest in welfare policies to provide benefits to the people and also avoid bankruptcy.
When mid-day meals started in schools in the southern states of the country in the early 1980s, the governments of many states could did digest it. But it was adopted by every state later on. The actual freebies were started by Tamil Nadu chief minister late J. Jayalalithaa in the 1990s when she distributed television sets, pressure cookers, sarees, washing machines to woo the voters during the assembly elections.
In Bihar George Fernandes who along with Nitish Kumar formed the Samata party in 1994, had promised freebies to people.
During the Uttar Pradesh assembly election in 2022, the BJP government had distributed freebies in terms of 5 kg rice or wheat and 1 kg grams to poor families.
The actual discussion started on freebies (Muft Ki Revari) during the inauguration of the Bundelkhand Expressway recently by PM Narendra Modi to target the AAP governments of Delhi and Punjab. The AAP is giving 300 units free power to every household in these two states apart from free transportation for females in buses and free water. Since the AAP is spreading wings in poll-bound Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, it could ring alarm bells for the BJP.
“Some of the freebies are important to safeguard the livelihood of the common people like what Narendra Modi ji did during the times of Covid. The irony is that many political parties announce freebies just to lure people for votes like what Kejriwal is doing,” Nikhil Anand, national general secretary of the OBC wing of the BJP, told IANS.
After the formation of a new government in Bihar, Nitish Kumar promised 10 lakh jobs during the flag hoisting ceremony on Independence Day in Patna. If the Nitish Kumar government fulfils the job promise, it would benefit his party JD-U and alliance partners including the RJD in Bihar in the 2024 Lok Sabha and 2025 assembly elections.
Neeraj Kumar, MLC and chief spokesperson of the JD-U, told IANS: “During the 2020 assembly election, the JD-U and BJP jointly promised 19 lakh jobs and we have given jobs to many people in sectors like education. It was possible only as such departments were run by ministers from the JD-U. We have filled over 43,000 jobs of teachers under the sixth phase of recruitment. Besides, we have given jobs in other sectors too.”
“CM Nitish Kumar is a person who never takes a step back from welfare schemes meant for the common people of Bihar. Liquor ban is the prime example of it. The state exchequer is losing a huge amount of revenue but he took the decision to ban it in the state in the interest of common people. He ensures electricity, drinking water, roads reach the villages. These are welfare schemes for the common people. A section of people demanded free power but Nitish Kumar refused as it sends the wrong message to the common people. Bihar is a consumer state of electricity and not a producing state,” Kumar said.