Laptop politics was a point of discussion in the political class during the last Tamil Nadu assembly elections where free laptops for students was the center attraction in the long list of freebies offered by different political parties. Now, as the country witnesses a fierce political battle over the state of Uttar Pradesh, an election result that can decide the fate of even the central government, the culture for shelling out freebies is back again. While it’s an undisputable truth that the practice of offering freebies during elections vitiates the spirit of democracy, political parties do not seem to give democracy a good thought during elections. Here are some of the freebies that the leading political parties in UP has offered in their manifestos.
Every BPL family in UP will get a cow if voted to power, says the BJP election manifesto which also remembered its old time promise of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. The party offered free laptops for poor students and cycles for girls. Students will be given tablets at 1000 and laptops at 5000. BJP also offered initiatives for inclusive development for Muslim, although it opposed the Muslim sub-quota by Congress and other parties. The manifesto offered debt waiver up to 1 Lakh for farmers, 24 hour free electricity for farmers and wheat at 2/Kg and rice at 3/kg for BPL card holders.
Samajwadi Party (SP)
A frontrunner for power and the favorite of opinion polls, Samajwadi Party stands a good chance of romancing with power once again and is all out to ensure this with a slew of freebies. Mulayam Singh's manifesto is centered on education and the party offers free education till class 8th for all and free school dress to girls. The party offers free education for girls till graduation and to facilitate this, free tablets will be given class 10th pass students and laptops to class 12 pass students. Fee exemption in private higher and vocational institutions is promised for students from low-income families. To woo the Muslim voters, SP promises speedy implementation of Rangnath Mishra Commission and Sachar committee recommendations. New government educational institutes in Muslim dominated areas, separate reservation in jobs for Muslims, immediate release of innocent Muslims jailed in relation to different terror cases and special budget for technical education in madarsas are a few of other freebies offered in the manifest. Eying the agricultural class, it offers loans at 4 percent to poor and marginal farmers in the state.
Pitching its best tactics and strategies, the Congress party hopes high on the UP elections and the party powerhouse at the centre expect nothing less than its resurrection to power in the state. Leaving no stone unturned, the Congress party under the umbrella of the youngest Gandhi of the Nehru dynasty has opened the box of freebies in its 'Vision Document 2020' trying to woo the vast population of Dalits and Muslims. In its election manifesto for Uttar Pradesh, Congress offered sub-quota for the most backwards Dalits, backward Muslims and free power connections for the poor. It also offered 4.5 per cent reservation for the backward minorities, 50 per cent reservation for women at panchayat polls, women police stations in every district and marriage grant of 10,000 to the SC/ST girls. Congress also claimed that the party would bring metro rail in major cities, open 500 model schools across the state, create 20 lakh jobs, offered 3000 crore package for weavers and will initiate ‘madarsa modernisation programme’ for the Muslim community.