The freebies promised by the Congress party that swept the Karnataka polls could spur competitive populism in the build-up to the 2024 general election, experts said, warning reckless giveaways would hurt long-term growth and development prospects.
They acknowledged a certain amount of populism is inevitable as well as desirable in a democracy for redistribution, but that should not undermine fiscal prudence and compromise efficiency in government spending.
Experts have warned that populist promises, such as cash and travel subsidies, promised by political parties in the lead up to elections in India, could harm long-term growth prospects. C Rangarajan, former RBI governor, suggested enforcing strict fiscal-deficit limits to limit freebies. Former chairman of the National Statistical Commission, Pronab Sen, called for action by the Election Commission against such promises. Meanwhile, M Govinda Rao, a member of the 14th Finance Commission, said that parties focus on short-term rather than long-term benefits.