It is voters should decide on issue of freebies, Congress tells EC

The Congress has reportedly told the Election Commission that the electorate should decide on the issue of “freebies”.

In a reply to the poll panel on October 20, the Congress has given, pointwise, its preliminary objections on the matter on grounds of jurisdiction, enforceability, definition on freebies and others, and sought time for personal hearing.

“The Election Commission has sought, by way of the proposed amendment, to limit campaign promises to only those that are ‘possible to be fulfilled’. Again, this is a woolly formulation. Every single party will claim that their promises are enforceable and given that the requirement proposed is to give a ‘broad formulation'” for how the promise will be achieved the threshold isn’t a difficult one to clear… which again brings us back to the concern that this is a redundant exercise,” said the reply made by senior party leader and former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh.

“It is important to remember that even assuming without conceding that something needs to be done about any issue, it does not follow that that issue is justiciable or liable to regulation by constitutional bodies, be it courts or the Election Commission. Freebies, howsoever defined, appear to fall in this category,” it said.

It said that freebies “are part of the dialectics of a vibrant democratic system. They are relatable to the give and take thrust of politics. They depend on the wisdom, the discernment and analysis of the electorate which should never be taken to be less than acute”.

“It is really something which is to be decided, be it pre-election or post-election, be it by way of electoral punishment or electoral acceptance and reward that the electorate decides the wisdom of such poll promises or campaign assurances and equally decides their breach and non-compliance. Neither the Election Commission, nor the government, nor indeed even the courts, have jurisdiction to justiciate and regulate such issues. It would therefore be best for the Commission to desist from doing so.”

20221028-172401

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