Votes can be bought for cash, biryani and a quarter bottle of liquor, laments Madras HC

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on April 05, 2021

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Madras High Court's stinging observations on the flawed election process creates a stir

The Madras High Court on Wednesday came down hard on political parties for adopting a freebie culture to woo voters in Tamil Nadu by promising laptops and household appliances if voted to power.

Whether development is achieved or not, freebies only make people lazy, shattering the work culture of the State. Consequently, no work is done in the State without migrant workers from other States, said Justices N Kirubakaran and B Pugalendhi.

Curbing freebies

The court directed the Election Commission to frame regulations in consultation with all the recognised political parties to curb this practice.

A separate head for guidelines for the election manifesto released by a political party can also be included in the Model Code of Conduct for the Guidance of Political Parties and Candidates, the order said on a writ petition filed by M Chandramohan of Tirunelveli.

If the money spent for freebies is utilised constructively and for incentives to agriculture, which has become an orphan in India as most of the people have quit agriculture as it does not provide a secured income, definitely, there will be social development and progress, the court said.

‘Stark reality’

Political parties should be prohibited from making election promises, which can add to the burden of the public exchequer, especially, with the State facing a financial crunch. Otherwise, for the sake of finance, the State has to increase the number of liquor shops, the order said.

“It is stated that every candidate has to shell out about ₹20 crore in the election to an Assembly constituency, as many of the people have become corrupt by selling their votes for cash, biryani and a quarter bottle of liquor. It is a stark reality. If that is so, how could the people expect good leaders? Do people who sell their votes have any moral right to question their leaders?” the Court said

For instance, the AIADMK has promised washing machines, six free LPG cylinders annually to every family, free solar stove and mosquito net. The DMK, on its part, has offered tablets with free data to government school and college students.

The Court sought response from the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs; the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Department of Social Justice and Empowerment; the Election Commission of India; the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission and the District Collector of Tirunelveli and posted the matter for April 26.

Published on March 31, 2021

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