JAIPUR: The BJP government in Rajasthan made a special effort to woo Dalit voters ahead of state elections through a Mega show called 'Mukhyamantri Jan Samwad' in Jaipur on Tuesday.
During the show, Vasundhara Raje interacted with over 35000 people from SC, ST and OBC backgrounds who have benefited from various government schemes. The highlight of the event was the announcement of distribution of smartphones to one crore families enrolled under 'Bhamashah' who are eligible under food security scheme in the state.
The event comes just two months after PM Modi met 2.5 lakh beneficiaries at the same venue. Raje distributed smartphones, two wheelers to the differently abled and disbursed loans at a concessional rate for self employed people of SC, ST background.
The CM also waived off earlier loans ( until Dec 31 , 2016 ) of people sanctioned by Rajasthan Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe Cooperative Development Limited. Government claimed to have waived off loans upto Rs. 2 lakh for nearly 23,000 listed candidates amounting to a total of Rs.114 crores. The programme was attended by 15,000 sanitation workers also ,who were appointed during the tenure of Raje government.
During her speech, Raje launched an aggressive attack on congress and said that her government has done for more for people in these 5 years than Congress has done in 50 years. " Rajasthan was called a 'BIMARU' state earlier, but it has come out of that depth. But we need to take it further, we need to make it the best state and for that we need your love and support. We want to make a state of your dreams and work towards eliminating poverty," she added.
The Rajasthan CM also justified the BJP government's promotion of their schemes through such beneficiary interaction programs. "People should know about the benefits from various government schemes and who has got a house, a toilet or a scooter, etc so that others come to know about it . This will spread awareness among people who deserve and seek such benefits-" she said.
Raje also claimed that her government had spent Rs.26000 crores on providing free medical treatment to the people of the state for the first time and made 80 lakh toilets in the last five years. " Process is on to provide government jobs to 1.35 lakh people and we will give 3 lakh 25 thousand more government in the coming days," she added as she talked about creating employment opportunities.
The occasion was also used to announce a new scheme called 'Bhamashah Digital Pariwar Yojna' under which smartphones with data will be given to around one and a half crore Bhamashah Cardholders in the state. The scheme will also benefit one crore families the eligible under food scurity scheme in two phases ; one where Rs. 500 will be lent for purchase of the smartphones and the next phase will be to give data connection worth Rs.500.
The card treats a family as a unit , so only one phone will be provided to each family. The state planning department issued an advertisement seeking tenders to undertake the government plan to provide smartphones to families. A minimum of two camps will be organised in every block of the state by telecom companies between September 1 and 30 for people to avail the scheme. At present, there are over 1.5 crore families enrolled under Bhamashah according to the state government's data. The opposition says all this is just election tactics and nothing more.
"Whether it's the Gaurav Yatra, PM rally, SC ST rally or the teacher's rally, it's the exchequer's money which is being wasted just a few days before the code of conduct will be put in place. If they wanted to do something for the Dalits, they should have done it long back and not just a couple of months before elections-", said Raghu Sharma, MP from Ajmer and Congress Vice President in the state.
Rajasthan Congress president Sachin Pilot also attacked the government and said : " Earlier, the taxpayers money was never used for events like this. Holding the rally or meeting is justified but addressing the beneficiaries of government schemes and using the government machinery to gather and send them back in buses so that they can give speeches is totally unjustified".
The various meetings and events are being seen as a ploy to target the Dalit votes as out of 200 assembly seats in Rajasthan 34 assembly seats are reserved for SC and 25 seats are reserved for ST. After losing in all 17 assembly seats in the by-elections held in Feb this year, the BJP wants to leave no stone unturned and is focussing a lot on weaker sections of the society.
Senior BJP leader Amit Shah, had lunch at a dalit's home during his last visit to Jaipur and even the RSS is organizing mass weddings for Dalit couples across Rajasthan. -"The Dalit voter is angry with ruling BJP over certain issues.
Dalit community has 17 percentage votes in Rajasthan and no political party can afford to displease them. In last five years 38 incidents of have taken place in the state where dalit grooms were humiliated by made to dismount from over the Mare they were riding on their wedding processions the upper castes Hindus . Dalits also cite the example of Dangawas where 6 dalits were brutally killed 3 years back over a land dispute ", political analyst Narayan Bareth said.
The BJP also had to face flak for the alleged dilution of the SC/ST act by the Supreme Court . The police action during the Dalit bandh on April 2 on the issue , had further aggravated the anger of the Dalit community.