Cong eyes Raj return with freebies; BJP points to power crisis in response

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot speaks during the inauguration ceremony of newly created districts at Birla Auditorium, in Jaipur. (IANS/Twitter:@ashokgehlot51)

Archana Sharma

Jaipur, Sep 3 (IANS) Free mobiles, free ration kits and free power till 100 units…Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has announced a series of freebies as assembly polls approach near, aiming to make a comeback in the state for next tenure, to break the decades old trend of shifting the power in alternate hands.

Eventually, the million dollar question is, will these freebies help Congress in making a comeback in Rajasthan?

While Congress seems confident of making a comeback via these free schemes and its social security announcements, the BJP, on the other hand, has been questioning the ruling government in Rajasthan over the highest petrol diesel prices, poor law and order state, and power crisis in the state.

A senior Congress worker said, “CM seems confident that the people of Rajasthan will re-elect Gehlot govt. We have taken care for each segment of society. With the aim of women empowerment and reducing the digital divide, one crore women have been announced to be given smartphones under the Indira Gandhi Smartphone Scheme. So far we have given smartphones to 40 lakh women. Next, all 1 crore women will be given a guarantee card, so that they will be able to easily get smartphones from the government in the coming times.”

Gehlot has also announced to give free ration kits to 33 lakh people.

According to the Chief Minister, families deprived of the benefits of the National Food Security Scheme will be given free ration kits. At the same time, kits will also be provided to those people who are taking advantage of the National Food Security Scheme and are in need. CM has already announced to give LPG cylinder to families below the poverty line (BPL) and beneficiaries of the Ujjwala scheme in Rajasthan for Rs 500, with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot approving a financial proposal of Rs 750 crore.

However, the opposition BJP has termed these announcements as ‘Chunavi Revdis’.

BJP state president CP Joshi said that the people of the state are suffering due to the false claims and promises of the Congress government. “Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has promised free electricity, but as he couldn’t take concrete steps for power generation, the power crisis has deepened in the state, as a result, today there is no electricity for 10 hours in the villages and also in the cities. The situation is bad. Everyone including public, youth, women, farmers, laborers and industrialists are troubled due to power cut. The Chief Minister’s inaction and corrupt policies have brought the development and standard of living of the state into the abyss,” he added.

Speaking on free mobiles for women, former chairperson of Rajasthan State Commission for Women, Suman Sharma (BJP), said, “The Chief Minister should give security guarantee to women instead of free mobiles.”

Women at present don’t need free mobiles, but security, she said while speaking on increasing gang rape cases which she said have doubled in the state and rape cases have increased by 50 per cent. During Gehlot government, cases of women harassment and rape have put the state to shame, she added.

As this debate continues in desert state, the discussion definitely goes to other states where free election promises have played an important role in the victory and defeat. Congress’ five guarantees scheme has spoiled the game of the BJP in the Karnataka Assembly elections in the South.

In the five guarantees of Congress in Karnataka, it promised a monthly allowance of Rs 2000 to women, unemployment allowance to youth, free electricity up to 200 units to homes and free grains. The Congress won 135 of Karnataka’s 228 seats, while the BJP was reduced to 116 to 65.

In Himachal Pradesh, Congress’ old pension scheme and 5 lakh government jobs prevailed over BJP’s other promises. Apart from these two announcements, the Congress has also announced to give Rs 1500 pension to women and 300 units of free electricity to every family. The Congress won 40 seats in the 68-member Himachal Assembly.

Free promises played an important role in the 2022 Uttar Pradesh elections as well. Just before the polls, BJP promised to give two gas cylinders in a year. Along with this, the party also promised to give free scooty to the college-going girls. Both these free promises of BJP overshadowed the old pension scheme of the Samajwadi Party (SP).

In 2020, Bihar’s election was held under the shadow of Corona. BJP promised to give free vaccines at that time. The party said that if the government repeats, then everyone will be given free vaccines. BJP became the number-2 party in the elections and managed to form the government with JD-U.

Meanwhile, political experts told IANS that free election promises work as a masterstroke in seats with low margins. Political parties do not want to miss out on making free promises as per their convenience. So amid the war of words over freebies in Rajasthan, all eyes are set on which party will win in the state assembly polls to note if ‘revdi politics’ really matters in the long run.

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