Leaders from across party lines on Monday agreed that India is a welfare state, while BJP maintained that there should be a differentiation between freebies and welfare measures.
Leaders and spokespersons from BJP, Congress, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Samajwadi Party (SP), and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) agreed that no party can look away from the fact that India is a welfare state while participating in a debate on 'India's Electoral Democracy @75' organised by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).
The debate was organised, along with the launch of a book titled 'Elections in India' by Sanjay Kumar, professor and co-director of Lokniti, a research programme at the CSDS.
Moderating the debate, Hilal Ahmed, associate professor at the CSDS, questioned the panelists about the freebies.
Representing the Congress, Supriya Shrinate strongly supported the freebies and said, "India is a welfare state and a major part of country's population lives outside Lutyens' Delhi and for them such freebies are essentials."
She also questioned why every debate on economy boils down to subsidies and dole-outs given to the poor for their upliftment.
Echoing similar views, Samajwadi Party's Jyoti Singh said no one will deny that India is not a welfare state and "as a socialist nation we have some commitments towards the poor of the country."
BJP spokesperson Shazia Ilmi maintained that the "freebies are different from welfare measures."
She said freebies are basically "election soaps" used for political gains, while welfare measures are aimed at uplifting the poor.