Hyderabad, Sep 3 (IANS) With just three months to go for Assembly elections in Telangana, ruling BRS and opposition Congress are engaged in aggressive politics of freebies to woo voters.
While Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) is announcing and implementing a slew of welfare schemes, Congress is trying to outdo the ruling party by promising even bigger doles.
The BRS is moving at a jet speed to implement new schemes before the Model of Conduct comes into force. The ruling party has already outsmarted the opposition by announcing candidates for 115 out of 119 Assembly seats.
The government is coming with announcements on a daily basis to either enhance the quantum of aid being provided to various sections or roll out new schemes to lure the voters.
The Congress party on the other hand is trying to beat BRS by promising more than what the government is currently doling out. Be it farm loan waiver, investment support to be given to farmers, housing scheme for poor or social security pensions, the Congress party is going all out to woo voters.
Since June 2, the state formation day, the BRS has announced several new schemes to consolidate its vote bank. The state Assembly last month passed a legislation to absorb over 43,000 employees of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) into a government scheme.
In July, KCR announced regularising the services of Village Revenue Assistants (VRAs) consequent to the abolition of the old revenue system.
On the lines of Dalit Bandhu, the government announced BC Bandhu. Under the scheme, Rs1 lakh financial assistance is extended to Backward Classes dependent on cast-based professions.
Later, the government announced a similar scheme for minorities to provide financial assistance of Rs1 lakh each to jobless youth.
As the BRS had come under attack from the opposition for failing to fulfill its promise made in 2018 elections to waive crops loans of up to Rs1 lakh, on the eve of the Independence Day KCR ordered release of over Rs 5,800 crore to waive loans of less than Rs 1 lakh of over 9 lakh farmers.
The government also announced Gruha Laxmi to provide Rs 3 lakh aid to the poor for building houses. The distribution of 2BHK houses among beneficiaries was also launched last month.
The government increased the pension for the differently-abled from Rs 3,016 to Rs 4,016 per month. KCR has hinted at a similar hike for other beneficiaries.
Releasing declarations for various sections of voters, Congress is looking to replicate the Karnataka model.
After unveiling declarations of farmers, youth and unemployed, the party last week announced its plans for the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).
The Congress party is promising higher financial support to various beneficiaries of the schemes being implemented by the BRS government.
While the BRS government last year announced a financial grant of Rs 10 lakh for every SC family under Dalit Bandhu scheme, the Congress has promised Rs 12 lakhs under Ambedkar Abhaya Hastham per SC, ST family within five years starting from 2023-24.
The Congress promised reservations for SC, STs in private educational institutions and in jobs in private companies availing incentives from the government.
The grand old party has also promised that the reservations for SCs will be increased to 18 per cent. A house site and Rs 6 lakh for construction of houses will be given to every houseless SC and ST family under Indiramma Pucca housing scheme.
The Congress promised that the Recognition of Forest Rights (RoFR) Act will be implemented to provide pattas for podu lands to all the eligible beneficiaries. Under Sammakka Sarakka Girijana Graminabhivrudhi Pathakam (SGGP), an annual grant of Rs 25 lakh will be provided to each Tanda and Gudem Gram Panchayats.
The party had released its declaration for farmers last year while it released a declaration for youth and unemployed in May.
The promises include Rs 2 lakh loan waiver. This is against Rs 1 lakh loan waiver promised by BRS in 2018 elections, but implemented only last month.
‘Indiramma Rythu Bharosa’ scheme will be introduced to provide investment support of Rs 15,000 per acre per annum to both land owning farmers as well as to tenant farmers. The government is currently giving Rs 10,000 to land owning farmers under the Rythu Bandhu scheme.
Every landless farm labourer registered under MGNREGA will be provided Rs 12,000 per year. It promised to procure all crops grown by farmers in the state with improved MSP.
The Congress party also promised to reopen closed sugar factories and set up a turmeric board. A better crop insurance scheme will be introduced to cover crop losses due to natural calamities or other reasons. Agricultural work will also be integrated into MGNREGA scheme.
The youth charter released in May this year promised Rs 4,000 as unemployment allowance. BRS had promised Rs 3,016 as unemployment allowance but failed to fulfill the promise.
The Congress party also promised to fill 2 lakh vacancies in government departments, annual job calendar and a government job each and pension for the families of Telangana martyrs.
Last month, the Congress party promised that if voted to power monthly pension of Rs 4,000 each will be paid to various beneficiaries like senior citizens, widows, single women
Chief Minister KCR, who turned Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) into BRS to expand the party in different parts of the state, has been projecting the welfare schemes of his government mainly 24-hour free power to farmers, investment support to farmers as a role model for the entire country.
The BRS government is spending about Rs 50,000 crore every year on welfare schemes. Last year, the ruling party had reacted strongly to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s freebies remark.
Ever since formation of first government in Telangana state in 2014, KCR has been focusing on welfare. He defended it on the ground that 80 per cent of the state’s 4 crore population come from socially and economically weaker sections of the society.
Under its Aasara Pension Scheme, the BRS government has been paying monthly pensions to various categories of beneficiaries like old people, widows, single women, physically disabled persons, beedi workers, handloom workers, toddy tappers and patients suffering from elephantiasis and AIDS.
Some of the categories of these beneficiaries used to get Rs 200 to Rs 500 monthly pension in undivided Andhra Pradesh but KCR enhanced it to a range of Rs 2,016- Rs 3,016.
Last year KCR announced a pension for another 10 lakh beneficiaries, taking the total number of beneficiaries to 36 lakh.
Under Kalyana Lakshmi and Shaadi Mubarak schemes, the state government is giving financial assistance of Rs 1,00,116 for marriage of every girl from poor families.
Under its flagship scheme Rythu Bandhu, the BRS government is providing Rs 10,000 per acre annually to farmers towards investment support. Over 63 lakh farmers are benefiting from the scheme.
Under the Rythu Bima scheme, the government is providing insurance coverage of Rs 5 lakh to the family of the farmer, irrespective of the cause of his death.
Ever since Prime Minister Modi’s remark of ‘revadi’ culture sparked a debate, the TRS leaders strongly defended the welfare scheme.
KCR came down heavily on the Centre for ‘diluting the nation’s federal spirit and running down welfare schemes of states by terming them freebies’.
According to BRS leaders, there are 250 welfare schemes that are being run by the state government for the poor.