Updated: January 4, 2022 11:34:10 am
From bulls to bills, parties in Uttar Pradesh poll race have everything and everyone covered. Some promises are common, such as free electricity, Covid relief and smartphones. Some, especially by the Samajwadi Party as it pulls ahead of the rest of the non-BJP pack, are more ingenious: aid in case of bull attacks as well as cycle accidents.
The Aam Aadmi Party was the first off the block. Aiming to make an impact especially in the districts that border Delhi, the party announced in September free electricity for farmers and waiver of pending electricity bills if voted to power, as well as unemployment allowance of Rs 5,000 per month for youths. On Sunday, AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal added to this the promise to transfer Rs 1,000 each month to accounts of women above 18 years, and of Ayodhya pilgrimage.
AAP UP chief spokesperson Vaibhav Maheshwari says, “All the promises have been made after detailed study, data collection, research about the state population, state budget and track record of government expenses. The maximum burden on government exchequer will be from free electricity, unemployment allowance and Rs 1,000 in accounts of women above 18 years. But all these promises can be fulfilled. AAP has the political willpower for that.”
— Samajwadi Party (@samajwadiparty) December 28, 2021
With AAP’s power promise giving it rich returns in Delhi, the SP next offered 300 units of free electricity to domestic consumers and to farmers for irrigation. It has also said that families of those who die of bull attacks or cycle accidents will get Rs 5 lakh each. Now the cycle is the symbol of the SP, while it has been raising the issue of the menace of stray animals since the BJP government cracked down on illegal slaughterhouses. President Akhilesh Yadav says people should trust the SP, as there is no difference between “what SP people say” and “what SP people do”.
On Monday, SP president Akhilesh Yadav said at a press conference that various pending power projects, including those in Shahjahanpur, Jhansi, Sonbhadra, Lalitpur, Etah, will be completed to provide the 300 units of free electricity. Party spokesperson Udaiveer Singh says other schemes are like insurance coverage for cyclists and other common citizens, and can be delivered easily.
The Congress, which is focusing its campaign on women, led by general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, has promised smartphones for girls in Class 12, scooty for women pursuing graduation, free public transport for women, three free gas cylinders a year to every woman, free medical treatment of up to Rs 10 lakh per family for all diseases, and special incentives and tax exemptions to businesses with more than 50% of the workforce women. The party is telling the people: “Hum vachan nibhayenge (We will keep our promises).”
Congress spokesperson Surendra Rajput says: “The budget required for implementation of these promises can be generated just by stopping the extravagance and corruption of the current government.”
The RLD, the SP’s alliance partner with its voter base confined to the farmers of western UP, has among the tallest list of promises — Rs 12,000 annually to farmers on Kisan Diwas (December 23, Chaudhary Charan Singh’s birthday), apart from Rs 15,000 per year to small and marginalised farmers for cultivating barren lands, and the money they receive under the Central government’s PM Kisan Samman Nidhi; ‘Puraane Bill Maaf, Bijli Dar Half (Scrapping of old bills, halving of new bills) for farmers; monthly stipend of Rs 5,000 until the age of 18 for children who have lost their parents to Covid-19; financial support of Rs 4 lakh to coronavirus victim families; and ‘Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Pratibha Samman’ worth Rs 1 crore each year to 100 startups and scientists able to obtain patents.
RLD state president Masood Ahmed says, “Our national president Jayant ji is an economist and he has done all the calculations. All the promises will be met.”
The BJP is banking on attracting youth, and on December 25, the birth anniversary of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath distributed free smartphones and tablets to students of undergraduate, postgraduate courses, as well as around 10,000 students preparing for competitive examinations or undergoing skill development training. The government promises it will cover one crore students under the programme.
Says BJP state spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi: “Opposition parties are trying to do politics of freebies because they have realised that they have lost their vote banks. But the UP public is aware that freebies of other parties bring hooliganism and mafia raj.”
On the distribution of free smartphones and tablets by the state government, Tripathi says the scheme was meant to develop skills among youths and make them job creators.
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