NEW DELHI: Political parties seem to have changed their strategies for garnering voters. An Election Commission analysis of election manifestos of different parties reveals a marked emphasis on distribution of freebies and doles.
The Commission found that promises made in these manifestos include items such as land, gold coins, cash, lands and constructed homes, free cattle etc. The poll panel said such doles are aimed at targeted groups of the electorate — BPL families, weaker sections of the society, women, handicapped, among others— as well as the whole electorate.
For instance, in last year’s Telangana Assembly polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) promised a waiver of farm loans upto Rs 2 lakh, free laptops to college students and also promised to give away cows for free. Similarly, the Congress, in its manifesto for last year’s Mizoram Assembly polls, promised free laptops to students who passed Class 10.
Similarly, the BJP in Karnataka promised free smartphones to poor women and free laptops to students in its manifesto for the 2018 Assembly elections.
Likewise, Tamil Nadu’s ruling party AIADMK, in its manifesto in May 2016, vowed coupons worth `500 to all ration card holders and promised that school students would continue to get free laptops. It also promised a waiver of farm loans.
A total of 17 manifestos were analysed by EC. They were divided into six categories depending on the kinds of promises made. These categories were tangible assets (like promises of land to landless labourers etc.), direct transfers either monetary or promise of policies of direct transfers, promise of loans and loan waivers, subsidies and food (like provision of free or subsidised food).