Wednesday, Jun 3, 2015Wednesday, Jun 3, 2015

Goats, gold among freebies as parties compete for parliamentary seats in India

Published on Apr 23, 2014 7:15 PM
A man poses as he gets his face painted ahead of the sixth phase of India's general election in Mumbai April 23, 2014. Goats, cable television, blenders, fans, bicycles and gold are among freebies promised by regional parties as they campaign for national elections.  -- PHOTO: REUTERS

CHENNAI, India - Goats, cable television, blenders, fans and gold are among freebies promised by Tamil Nadu's ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (Aiadmk) as it campaigns in national elections, projecting its leader, former film actress J. Jayalalithaa, as a future prime minister.

Other regional parties are also getting into the act. The Biju Janata Dal party, which holds power in the eastern state of Odisha, is offering free bicycles to some students. In Andhra Pradesh on India's southeast coast, the Telugu Desam Party is promising to waive all farmer loans, while local workers of the Congress party is offering free electricity and cooking gas for the poor.

Regional parties promising government giveaways threaten to undermine pledges by Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, which leads in opinion polls, to impose fiscal discipline if he forms a coalition government, Bloomberg reported.

A fragmented coalition that leads to increased spending on subsidies and weaker growth would put the nation of 1.2 billion people at risk of a credit-rating downgrade, Standard and Poor's said last week.

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!