Mahua Moitra's dare to Nirmala Sitharaman on freebies: 'I'll bet you ₹15 lakh'
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said states must consider their fiscal status before announcing election sops so that when they win elections and come back to the government again, they can keep their promises.
Trinamool Lok Sabha MP Mahua Moitra has thrown a dare to finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman over the freebies issue as the minister on Saturday said when state governments announce sops before elections, they must check the fiscal strength so that when they win and come back, they can keep the promise. "Err...Madam..I'll bet you ₹15 lakh you couldn't tell Modiji this to his face," Mahua Moitra tweeted sharing a screenshot of a news article on Sitharaman's comment. Also Read | Can’t couch all freebies as welfare schemes: Supreme Court
At an interactive programme organised by the BJP's Economic Cell in Bengaluru, the finance minister said the sop could be anything like free electricity. "And I'm not saying you should not do it," she added. "Do it but make sure you understand the financial level of your state, the fiscal strength of your state and having promised it during the election, you won, you come back, ensure that you fulfil it because you have given a word and how, by making sure that your budget will have a provision for it," she said.
The issue of freebies has come to the centre stage with the Centre and the Aam Aadmi Party warring over this after PM Modi in his recent speeches addressed the issue. In July, PM Modi mentioned 'revadi culture' in one of his speeches and cautioned people against this. AAP chief and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said providing free healthcare, bus travel education are not freebies but waiving loans of friends is.
As the debate on freebies is going on, Nirmala Sitharaman said bringing health and education to the discussion is a 'perverse twist' as no Indian government since Independence ever denied them.
Opposition leaders have also chimed in to the debate with the Congress questioning the tax reliefs of the "government's rich friends".
On the issue of election freebies, the Supreme Court recently observed that all freebies can not be couched as welfare schemes. A line should be drawn between welfare measures and freebies and a debate should be initiated to evaluate the impact of freebies on the economy of a state and taxpayers.