Assembly elections have wrapped up in five states, and out of these, the BJP has won 4 states. Punjab has been the only state where the BJP has not been able to do much, here the Aam Aadmi Party has won a landslide victory, and this is the first time that such a large number of big leaders have lost, many former chief ministers have lost, while Chief Minister Channi has lost both his seats.
The Aam Aadmi Party has achieved a spectacular victory, the largest ever by any since the re-organization of the state in 1966. It has shown stellar performances in all three regions — Malwa, Majha, and Doaba, Malwa, and Majha.
People are giving credit to Kejriwal’s door-to-door and grassroots campaign, which helped AAP to connect with the voters. They declared Bhagwant Mann as their chief ministerial candidate just before the polls, which helped them garner acceptance among Punjab’s voters. Apart from all this, it was Kejriwal’s so-called ‘Delhi model’, that struck a chord with the voters.
What Kejriwal has promised to Punjab?
Kejriwal has made some giant promises to the people of Punjab.
- Paying Rs 1,000 a month to every adult woman in the state.
- 300 units of free power each month to every household.
- Setting up village clinics like the mohalla clinics of Delhi
- Revamping Punjab’s dilapidated government schools like what has been done in Delhi.
- Providing free hospital care for all.
Well, on the paper these promises look fine and certainly would have lured the people to vote for him. However, it is important to know if Kejriwal has delivered his promises in Delhi or not.
Did Kejriwal deliver in Delhi?
Arvind Kejriwal has miserably failed to deliver on his promises in Delhi. The MCDs are still suffering due to a lack of funds from the Delhi government. The so-called revolutionary reform of the school system is in shambles, and this can be proved with the recent school results and downward trend of children taking admission in Delhi Government’s schools.
Most of Kejriwal’s promises are yet to be fulfilled. For example, Kejriwal promised to deploy more than 1000 electric buses by 2019, but just one vehicle has been put into operation so far, and that too this year.
Kejriwal promised to clean the river Ganga and made Delhi London, but you can yourself validate the authenticity of these promises and their respective outcomes. Delhi has gained an infamous distinction of the world’s most polluted capital city for the past three years. He promised 15 lakh CCTVs, Women security commandoes, but nothing has been materialized till now.
Here AAP will be facing its biggest challenge to date, as they were able to do some face-saving in Delhi using advertisement as Delhi is a fiscally prudent state, but Punjab is already in a grave financial mess, and Kejriwal and Bhagwant Maan will find it really hard to spend on freebies and advertisements.
Punjab – An already Financially Crippled State
Punjab used to be a prosperous state a few decades back, but gradually it has lost the sheen due to bad policies of the previous government and freebies culture. Punjab’s debt in 2021-22 was estimated at a whopping Rs 2.82 lakh crore.
Punjab’s entire financial budget is more than 6 lakh crores, which is approximately 9 times that of Delhi. If we calculate the cost incurred to the exchequer on account of only power subsidies, then it will be around 27,000 crores, which is nine times the cost incurred for power subsidies in Delhi.
The Punjab government has a history of underpaying the electricity supplier companies, and currently, this amount is around Rs 10,000 crore, which is to be paid to PSPCL. The previous CM Charanjit Singh also made several announcements before the elections, and that will make the subsidy bill for the current fiscal year to Rs 20,016 crore.
If Kejriwal is planning to implement his policy, then he must pay the existing 20,016 crores and then a further 27,000 crores will incurred on annual basis. If the incumbent government was unable to pay for previous commitments, how will the Kejriwal government pay a bill that is 1.5 times the existing outstanding?
We are pretty much sure that the AAP government will sacrifice something else to fund their subsidy scheme, it could be healthcare, infrastructure, education, security, transport, and many more.
Freebies Culture – Small-Term political gain but Long Term Pain
Freebies have taken an important place in India’s electoral politics. Everybody knows that freebies will put an additional burden on the exchequer, but political parties announce them to woo the voters and get a much-needed edge against their competitors.
Political parties consider freebies as a lucrative tool to garner public support in elections and assume power. However, it is important to understand that freebies are not paid from their pockets but from the taxpayer’s pockets.
AAP relied heavily on the freebies culture to win the election in 2015. They promised free electricity, water, bus travel, and more to lure the voters and make giant inroads. However, their freebie schemes only made the financial condition of Delhi worse.
The free bus travel only increased the debt of the Delhi Transport Corporation to Rs 1,750 crore. Overall, Delhi’s state’s exchequer’s loss in the two years increased 55 times. The same story is with the Delhi Jal Board, which was a money-making department a few years back, but now it is making losses of thousands of crores per year.
Freebie schemes can never be considered financially feasible policies for any state or nation. Ultimately, it is the taxpayer who bears the brunt of all politically motivated decisions. If the AAP and Kejriwal truly want to work for the public welfare and improve the financial status of the state, they must work on changing their dishonest mindset and committing themselves to cater to the actual needs of the population, not offering them ‘freebies.’