The Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government on Tuesday announced that it will provide free smartphones with Internet connectivity to families covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) in the state, which currently stand at over a crore. This announcement comes at a time when the state is gearing up for assembly elections scheduled later this year.
The scheme, launched by CM Raje in Jaipur, has been christened as the ‘Bhamashah Digital Parivar Yojana’. The scheme will be for NFSA beneficiaries under the Bhamashah Card. The card is issued to the woman head of the family free-of-cost by the state government, through which they can avail schemes of the government. Currently, it supports 54 services.
As per government records, 1.64 crore families with 6.08 crore members are enrolled with Bhamashah. Of these, 1.03 crore families are entitled to receive benefits under the NFSA. It is these one crore families that the state government hopes to include under the Digital Parivar Yojana.
Under the scheme, each family will receive Rs 1,000 in their account in two instalments. In the first instalment, they will receive Rs 500 to buy smartphones at special camps, while the second instalment will be credited once they get internet connections and download the concerned apps. The scheme will be implemented through camps — at least two in each block — which will continue till the end of this month; and before the Model Code of Conduct is enforced.
On September 1, the Planning Department had invited Expression of Interest (EoI) from “telecom service providers and smartphone manufacturers” to set up camps in the districts. The EoI stated that the aim is to implement the vision of digital Rajasthan and to provide government schemes and services in a smooth and transparent manner. The telecom service providers and smartphone manufacturers have been asked to contact the district collectors to participate in the camps.
Akhil Arora, Principal Secretary, Planning, had also written to all district collectors regarding the camps. “If someone (covered in the scheme) already has a smartphone, then all they need to do is download the apps, such as the Bhamashah app, and they will still receive the money. The aim is to enable them to get used to using the applications,” said Dr Om Prakash Bairwa, Director and Joint Secretary, Department of Planning.
Asking why the Raje government took almost five years to announce this “largesse”, Congress state president Sachin Pilot said, “This is a desperate move because elections are less than two months away; transferring money into people’s accounts and providing them with mobile phones is a desperate attempt by Vasundharaji to try and get people in her favour.”