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Madras HC slams TN politicians for promoting freebie culture and making people lazy

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BY S VENKAT NARAYAN
Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, April 1: The Madras High Court on Monday expressed its strong displeasure over the way in which political parties in Tamil Nadu are vying with each other to garner votes by offering freebies such as television sets, fans, mixer grinders, laptops, washing machines and even monthly cash doles.

Instead, the court said they should concentrate more on promising and delivering jobs, infrastructure development, improving health, transport facilities and agriculture.

Justices N. Kirubakaran and B. Pugalenthi lamented that the freebie culture had made the people lazy and dampened their spirit to work hard. They declared that promising freebies should also be declared a corrupt practice since it vitiates the purity of the election process and influences the voters.

It was pointed out that if one party promises a cash dole of INR1,000 another comes up with a counter promise of INR1,500 a month.

If this trend continues, a day might come soon when some political party in the State will offer to visit the houses of voters and cook food for them every day, and another party may offer not only to cook but also to feed the voters, the judges wrote in their verdict.

The court also came down heavily on voters who accept money for exercising their franchise, thereby making the entire democratic exercise a mockery.

“It is stated that every candidate has to shell out about INR200 million in the election to an Assembly constituency as many voters have become corrupt and sell their votes for a few thousands, biriyani and a quarter [liquor] bottle. It is the stark reality. If that is so, how could people expect good leaders? Do people, who sell their votes, have any moral right to question their leaders? In a democracy, people get the leaders they deserve,” the Bench observed.

The tax payers remain mute spectators to the public exchequer being drained on distributing freebies, the judges said. People of the State have become so lazy that migrant workers from the north and north eastern parts of the country have to be employed in every other field of work, be it hotels, industries, shops and saloons. Migrants are employed even for agricultural work in the State, they pointed out.

“The way in which things are happening today, one would not be surprised to see that migrant workers would be the owners of the movable and immovable properties here in due course. And the sons of the soil will become workers under them. It may be the only achievement, probably, the political parties have attained through election promises by providing freebies for the past 20 years,” the Division Bench said.

Stressing the need to arrest such practices at the earliest, the court posed a series of 20 questions to the Government of India as well as the Election Commission of India, and sought a reply by April 26. The court wanted to know whether the Centre has taken steps to enact a law governing the promises made by political parties in their election manifestos and the action taken so far by the Election Commission of India against parties which make irrational promises.

The observations were made and the questions posed while passing orders on a writ petition to de-reserve the Vasudevanallur Assembly constituency .



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JVP accuses EC of conspiring to delay LG polls

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By Saman Indrajith

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, MP, has told Parliament that the Election Commission and its Chairman are collaborating with the government to postpone the local government elections.

Participating in the Third Reading stage debate on Budget 2023, on Friday, MP Dissanayake said that as local government bodies should be reconstituted before March 20 2023, the Election Commission had to publish a gazette calling nominations by late December or early January.

“The EC has the authority to do so. It has sought the Attorney General’s opinion on some matters. There is no need at all for it to seek the AG’s advice,” he said.

“This is a conspiracy. The Elections Commission can publish the gazette even tomorrow. It is clear that the Elections Commission is collaborating with the government,” he said.

Dissnayake said that Election Commissioner Nimal Punchihewa’s impartiality was in question. “We know where Punchihewa worked before and at what party office. We know the governments and persons he has worked with closely. He is not an independent person.”

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Diana wants bars open 24/7

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By Saman Indrajith

State Tourism Minister Diana Gamage says liquor outlets should be kept open longer if the country wants to boost tourism.Participating in the Third Reading stage debate on Budget 2023 on Friday, State Minister Gamage said: “We have to keep these places open 24/7. I have spoken about it many times. Liquor is the highest tax earner in the country. In this paradise, we are closing bars after 11pm. Foreigners in hotels can’t get any alcohol if they need, because all the places are closed.

We need to keep this country open 24 hours. Like Singapore and other countries, people must have entertainment.”

“I talk about the night life, and when I talked about that earlier many criticized it and saw it as a big sin. That is ones who are incapable of understanding it,” she said.

“What we call night life is actually a night economy. All the countries in the world have developed because of night economy. These countries get 70 percent of their income from the nigh economy. They only get 30 percent during the day time. We have to develop a night economy in this country. That will earn 70 percent of the income. Only that can develop this country.

“We can do that. And also our museum, that closes at 5 pm. In other countries, museums earn most during night. It must be opened 24/7.  This night economy is essential for a country’s economy. People must have places to spend their money.”

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SJB asks govt. to introduce political reforms fast

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By Saman Indrajith

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has asked the government when it will introduce the political reforms demanded by the international community.

Speaking in Parliament on Saturday, Kiriella said that when the Opposition parties met the members of the Colombo-based diplomatic community during the Aragalaya protests, the latter had demanded that Sri Lanka implement political and economic reforms to receive foreign assistance to get out of the prevailing crisis. “That was six months ago. We have been asking the government repeatedly to inform this House whether it has implemented those reforms.

“The riginal plan was to establish an interim government for six months to restore the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. It was stated that an election would be held after six months. Now, what has happened? The politicians who are responsible for the crisis are still in power.

“Foreign Minister Al Sabry met USAID Administrator Samantha Power on Friday. Samantha Power called for the same political and economic reforms again. The international community is asking for the same.”

Leader of the House, Minister Susil Premjayantha said that political reforms were being implemented. “It is as part of the political reforms we are setting up a National Council, Sectoral Oversight Committees and three other committees. Counter terrorism act is in the pipeline. It will be taken up within couple of weeks. We passed several bills with your support. There were nine amendments to be introduced to the criminal law,” he said.

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa: “The bills and amendments that have been passed are not enough as far as the international community and we are concerned. The biggest request is to allow the people of this country for a new mandate. Allow the people to express their will. Give them a chance to establish a new government or to maintain the same government now they have.”

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