Chennai, March 22 (IANS) City-based advocate S. Subramaniam Balaji has complained to the Election Commission that the freebies announced by the ruling DMK and its ally PMK as poll promises are worth around Rs.200,000 per family and are purely a bribe ahead of the April 13 elections in Tamil Nadu.
The DMK, in its manifesto, has promised (a) a concrete house worth Rs.1,00,000 (b) grant to women folk of a sum of Rs.5,000-Rs.10,000 through women self help groups (c) free mixie or grinder (d) laptop worth around Rs.20,000 or more for students (e) free bus travel to senior citizens worth around Rs.2,000 per month at current rates (f) 35 kg of rice worth around Rs.175 and (g) PMK’s promise of direct cash transfer of around Rs.1,500 – which approximately totals over Rs.200,000 over the next five years per family.
Balaji emailed his complaint to the poll panel Tuesday,
Speaking to IANS, Balaji said no government has the right to give freebies out of government’s consolidated fund built out of tax payer’s monies.
He said the unconstitutional transfer of public money held in trust by the government vitiates the electoral atmosphere.
Such promises are unconstitutional and bribery amounting to corrupt practice under Section 123 (1) of the Representation of the Peoples Act read together with Section 171-B(2) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Such promises are ultra vires Article 282 of Indian constitution, Balaji said.
“A government cannot enrich private individuals out of consolidated funds. Giving free land or free TVs or monthly cash doles are precisely that,” he added.
Section 171-B(2) of IPC reads: “A person who offers, or agrees to give, or offers or attempts to procure, a gratification shall be deemed to give a gratification.”
Queried about his case against the Tamil Nadu government’s free colour television scheme, he said: “It is in the Supreme Court and the final hearing is expected to be in July this year.”
According to the Tamil Nadu government, around 17 million television sets have been procured involving an outlay of around Rs.4,000 crore during the past five years.
According to PMK’s founder S. Ramadoss, freebies like colour televisions, grinders, mixies and other items are akin to what the government gives to the rich… like tax exemptions and tax holidays to corporates.
The PMK seems to have borrowed the cash transfer idea from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) that made a similar promise during the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.
As per the interim budget presented by the Tamil Nadu government in February this year, a sum of Rs.1,377 crore tax concession has been provided for the promotion of industries during the past five years. A sum of Rs.1,525 crore has been provided for this purpose in the interim budget.
Balaji has also filed a case against Tamil Nadu government’s free housing scheme under which Rs.75,000 will be paid by the government for converting thatched roofs into concrete roofs.