NEW DELHI: ‘Har Ghar Mein Ujjwala, Har Ghar Mein Ujala’ — the Modi government is working on this “pro-poor mantra” that it hopes will consolidate the poor behind it in the 2019 elections and bring it victory, like demonetisation did in UP.
The new Rs 16,320-crore electrification scheme is aimed at those above the poverty line too.
While Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana benefits those below the poverty line with a free electricity connection, a subsidised connection at just Rs 500 for those above the poverty line, but excluding the urban non-poor, is now aimed at the “entire range of poor” in the country, senior party strategists have told ET. Existing cost of getting an electricity connection varies from state to state — from Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 — and the Centre will foot the subsidised cost.
BJP has already reaped the electoral benefits of the Ujjwala scheme (providing a free gas cylinder connection to those below the poverty line) and demonetisation (which had the poor rooting for it) in UP.
“The new electricity scheme for above BPL will benefit the people most in UP and Bihar, where a majority of the 4 crore such APL households are located. UP and Bihar are key to a win in 2019,” party leaders say. Other big states like Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Karnataka have sizeable chunk of such households.
The ‘political, economic’ move will firmly rebut the “suit boot ki sarkar” jibe of Congress veep Rahul Gandhi, BJP leaders maintain.
The scheme has economic sense too, senior government officials say. Some of the 4-crore unelectrified APL households may be drawing power illegally, causing commercial losses to the government as these people continue to remain out of the government’s revenue ambit. Giving them a metered legal connection helps the government earn revenue. Also, kerosene, which is an alternative source of power in such households, is adding to the government’s import bill.
As carried in TOI on 27/9/2017