Government funds belong to the people, and government programmes are mere channels through which these funds are deployed for the people’s benefit.
The BJP’s Himachal Pradesh unit, as per a report in The Indian Express, wants beneficiaries of Central and state government welfare schemes in the state to fly flags of the party atop their houses. As per the report, party workers will be expected to approach each of the 8.5 lakh such households in the state and try and convince them to support the BJP—and proclaim the same from rooftops—in the run up to the general elections this year. This is envisaged to be part of the the party’s nation-wide campaign Mera Parivar, Bhajapa Parivar (my family, a BJP family). As part of this campaign, five crore BJP workers in the country will also fly party-flags atop their houses. But, the problem is, while the party can ask its workers to fly its flag, coaxing government-scheme beneficiaries to do this is unethical, and downright unacceptable. Coaxing beneficiaries to consider their entitlement as a party’s largesse is political sleaze of the worst kind. Government funds belong to the people, and government programmes are mere channels through which these funds are deployed for the people’s benefit.
Public funds are not to be leveraged to consolidate votes. It is an elected government’s solemn responsibility to benefit citizens, irrespective of their political allegiance, while not shoring up its vote-bank among the electorate. The usage of public funds to further the political goals of a party is gross misuse of them, and the Election Commission should make sure that this doesn’t happen. Politicising government schemes in the manner that the Himachal BJP has reportedly proposed sets a precedent for parties and future governments to colour entitlements of the people as party largesse, and that is a rabbit-hole no party would want to go down.