Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan Wednesday targetted the central government over its stance on the “revdi” (freebies) culture across the country, and asked “on what basis” state governments should change their policy.
Speaking to India Today, Thiagarajan said, “Either you must have a constitutional basis to say what you are saying, in which case we all listen, or you must have special expertise, you must be have a double PhD in Economics, or you must have a Nobel Prize or something that tells us you know better than us. Or, you must have a performance track record, that you have grown the economy wonderfully or you brought down debt, increased the per capita income or created jobs.
“When neither is true, why we should listen to somebody’s view?” the Finance Minister asked.
Thiaga Rajan also said Tamil Nadu had outperformed the Union government in several parameters. “We are huge net contributors to the Union exchequer. What more do you want from us? On what basis should I change my policy for you,” he said.
Reiterating, he asked, “Do you have constitutional basis? No. Are you a financial expert? No. Do you have Nobel prize? No. Have you performed better than us? No. On what basis should I change my policy for you, is this some extra constitutional diktat coming from heaven?”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks, calling out the ‘revadi’ culture, had triggered the debate on ‘freebies’. He had said ‘freebies’ were dangerous for the country and could lead to far-reaching economic consequences.
Meanwhile, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) Tuesday moved the Supreme Court challenging the definition of ‘freebies’ and argued that free services are given with an intent to “secure social order” and “economic justice”.
DMK, the party to which Thiaga Rajan belongs, is the second after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to challenge the promise of freebies in court. DMK’s petition challenges the notion that ‘freebies’ can bring financial ruin to a state.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday asserted that it cannot prevent political parties from making promises, and that it was essential to define what is a “freebie”. A bench headed by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana asked, “Can universal healthcare, access to drinking water, and access to consumer electronics be treated as freebies?” The apex court was hearing a petition by BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Upadhyay seeking to prevent political parties from promising freebies to the electorate before elections.