Amid the ongoing row over poll freebies, Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Dr P Thiaga Rajan has slammed the BJP and asked if the free facilities in states it is ruling “descend from the hand of God”.
The minister was speaking to NDTV during an interview on the big political battle between the BJP and the Opposition over poll freebies. The row was sparked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent remarks, warning people against pre-poll promises of freebies, something he termed as “revdi culture”.
The matter is also before the Supreme Court after a petition sought that the registration of parties that make such promises be cancelled. The court has now asked the centre what “freebies” means and also sought the reply of the Aam Aadmi Party and the DMK, which Mr Thiaga Rajan belongs to.
The reason I ask about qualifications for giving TN advice is, @mkstalin already has 5 Economic Advisors w/ Ph.D’s including former Union Fin Sec, 2 CEA’s, & RBI Governor & 1 who received a Nobel prize pic.twitter.com/qDQh9j2ATj
— Dr P Thiaga Rajan (PTR) (@ptrmadurai) August 20, 2022
“The notion of freebie is very ill-defined. One man’s freebie is another man’s essential social spending,” the Tamil Nadu minister told NDTV, speaking of how the party plans to argue its stand in court.
Asked if there was a distinction between giving out free ration and distributing items such as TVs — a common practice in Tamil Nadu –, the minister replied, “Whatever that distinction is, it’s not clear to me that the Supreme Court, TV anchors or the Finance Commission is the right authority under the Constitution to make that distinction. The voters will make their minds based on whether they like it or don’t like it, they re-elect or don’t elect. I don’t understand what the role of the court is in this. Since when does any country’s Constitution allow the Supreme Court to decide how public money is spent?”
Responding to the Prime Minister’s remarks on the issue, the Tamil Nadu minister said the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh recently announced free bus rides. “Is the Prime Minister positive for negative on that? In Tamil Nadu, our predecessor AIADMK [A BJP ally] decided to give scooters at half the price for one lakh women and the Prime Minister came to inaugurate that scheme. What was his thinking then?”
“It is farcical, this one rule for me, another rule for you logic. They give away and nobody is to question because it descends directly from the hand of God. And if anybody else gives, they say, ‘no, no, it’s a bad freebie’.”