UDAIPUR: Vice president Jagdeep Dhankhar on Tuesday asked political parties to debate the practice of extending free goods or facilities by states, saying the “political intoxication of the people by the distribution of largesse” requires serious deliberation.
“Economies have collapsed as a consequence of this. Thrust has to be to generate an ecosystem that empowers the people to unleash their talent and potential. Reaching out to their pockets is not a rational option,” the vice president, who was chairing the concluding function of the 9th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association – India Region Conference in Udaipur, said.
“Capital expenditure is showing declining trends. This obviously impedes development in the real sense,” he said.
Dhankhar’s statement comes amid back-and-forth between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government and the Opposition parties on the topic. State governments under Congress and some Opposition parties have been under attack by the BJP over the concessions announced by them.
In the run-up to the recent Karnataka election, the Congress announced cash sops for unemployed farmers and sops including free bus rides for women.
Dhankhar’s statement questioned the financial fallout of such freebies.
In the course of his speech, the vice president also expressed concern over increasing disruption in the legislative bodies. Dhankhar, who is the chairman of the Rajya Sabha, said the ”temples of democracy” have become “hotbeds of disturbance and disruptions” these days and reminded lawmakers that public representatives were “expected to put people before politics, decency before division.”
“As a consequence of such worrisome scenario, parliament and legislatures are fast surging into irrelevance. This gruesome situation ill augurs for democratic values,” he said.
The Rajya Sabha chairman’s speech assumes importance in the backdrop of the last monsoon session that saw regular disruptions over the Opposition’s demand for the Prime Minister’s statement on Manipur. During the session, two Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) lawmakers, Sanjay Singh and Raghav Chadha were suspended. The two AAP leaders, along with Trinamool’s floor leader Derek O’Brien and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh are facing privileged cases.
Dhankhar underlined that the Opposition can put the government on the mat if they are well prepared and participate in debates.
“Our Constitution provides freedom of speech to everyone, but there is greater freedom of speech, given to the legislatures and parliamentarians. If they say something in the parliament or legislature, ordinary citizens cannot take them to court. There can be no defamation, no civil case, no criminal case, great opportunity, a great privilege,” the Rajya Sabha chairman said.