Bhopal, April 16 (IANS) It has been over a month since Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan launched the ‘Ladli Behna Yojna’ to target the crucial 48 per cent women’s vote in the year-end assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh. Calling it a step towards the ‘economic empowerment’ of poor women, the ruling BJP is leaving no stone unturned to use it to neutralise the high anti-incumbency of nearly 20 years of its rule.
Whether this scheme to provide Rs 1000 per month to women aged 23 to 60 years (with certain conditions) be enough to convince the voters amid the continuing price rise of daily essentials like cooking gas, milk and foodgrains, apart from the issue of unemployment and growing corruption in the governance remains to be seen. However, the Madhya Pradesh BJP unit will undoubtedly be banking on the scheme launched just eight months before the assembly elections.
The Chief Minister does not forget to mention the ‘Ladli Behna Yojna’, claiming that his government has brought an extraordinary scheme that will “change the life of not only women but the entire family living under the poverty line.”
The BJP will not need to hire any brand ambassador to advertise this scheme when it has the longest serving chief minister in Chouhan, who has already established himself as ‘Mama’ (maternal uncle) through a similar scheme — the ‘Ladli Laxmi Yojna’ — during his previous tenure. That scheme was later copied in some other states as well.
Chouhan, who is also called ‘pau pau wale bhaiya’ (leader who walks to the people), would use all his skill while addressing a gathering of women. For instance, while addressing a large gathering of women on the occasion of his 64rth birthday on March 5, he got down on his knees on the stage decorated with a red carpet and flowers and appealed to them to give their blessing to their “brother” (him).
At a time when the state BJP seems to be cornered from all sides by the opposition, and all eyes are on Chouhan, hailed as the unopposed leader of the Madhya Pradesh BJP for over 15 years, he is once again trying to win the assembly elections by establishing himself as the ‘brother’ of women.
In another attempt to establish himself as a ‘brother’, while addressing a large gathering of women, Chouhan would start singing his own version of the famous Bollywood song: “Phulon ka taron ka sabka kehna hai, lakhhon hazaron mein yeh meri behna hai.”
Beside all these tactics, he also narrates stories and creates imaginary scenes of economic empowerment through the ‘Ladli Behna Yojna’.
For instance, he will often reiterate while addressing a gathering of women, “One poor woman would get Rs 1000 per month, it means, she would get Ra 12,000 in one year. And if there are two women in the family, then the amount would be Rs 24,000 per annum. Further, if there is a sasu maa (mother-in-law) in the family, she would also get Rs 10,000 per year under the old age pension scheme.”
“More to it, if the family is eligible to get Rs 10,000 under the Kisan Nidhi Yojana, then the total amount rises to Rs 44,000 in one year. That is why I say that the ‘Ladli Behna Yojna’ is a life changing scheme for women and I feel proud of making it happen.”
A couple of days ago Chouhan said: “I was feeling restless and I could not sleep the whole night. At 4 a.m., I decided to launch a big scheme for women to make them economically empowered and then this ‘Ladli Behna Yojna’ came into my mind.”
Due to his changing statements every day about the scheme, the opposition accuses him of doing “drama”.
But what actually made him launch this scheme just eight months before the assembly elections? There are different views on it in the political gallery.
Some political analysts are of the view that this scheme was planned following a meeting held in the Ratapani forest sanctuary on October 1. The meeting was presided over by BJP national general secretary (organization) B.L. Santosh.
In that secret meeting, Santosh had opened a bundle of wrongdoings by the state administration and had raised concerns while speaking about how these activities can and have impacted the party’s electoral performance in the past, notably in the recently (few months back) held civic elections where the party lost mayor posts in crucial cities including Gwalior, Morena, Rewa and Singrauli.
And also the 2018 polls in which the BJP lost and then had to go for extra-electoral measures to oust the Congress’ Kamal Nath from power.
Sources told IANS that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had held a meeting in Indore on April 7 to review the situation in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh. Sources also claimed that only state BJP president V. D. Sharma was called to attend the meeting, not even CM Chouhan.
At the end, will this scheme be a game changer for the BJP or not, will be known only after the polls are over at the end of this year. However, Chouhan is making all-out efforts to gain a 51 per cent vote share, a target set by the central BJP leadership.
MP BJP sees in ‘Ladli Behna Yojna’ its saviour against anti-incumbency