JAIPUR: It seems the Vasundhara Raje government in Rajasthan has opened its coffers to shower gifts on the electorate ahead of the year-end polls.
A day after reduction in value-added tax (VAT) on petrol and diesel by four per cent, a two per cent hike in dearness allowance (DA) for state government employees was announced with effect from July 1, 2018. The hike will also be applicable for pensioners as dearness relief.
The hike will take the DA of state government employees from 7 per cent to 9 per cent. The decision, which will benefit nearly 8 lakh employees and 3.5 lakh pensioners, will cost an additional Rs 547 crore to the exchequer annually.
The Central government had approved a similar increase in DA for its employees just two weeks ago.
On Sunday evening, Chief Minister Raje had announced 4 per cent reduction in VAT on petrol and diesel during her ongoing Gaurav Yatra in Hanumangrah district. This brought the petrol and diesel prices by about Rs 2.5 per litre in the state while it will put an additional burden of Rs 2,000 crore on the exchequer.
Last week, the chief minister had announced free distribution of smartphones with internet connection to 1 crore ‘Bhamashah’ families covered under the National Food Security Act in the state.
Under the ‘Bhamashah Digital Pariwar Yojna’ the state government had decided to give Rs 1,000 to the beneficiaries in two installments — first, to buy the smartphones and then for data connection.
The Opposition Congress had called it “collective bribery” and had questioned the timing of the announcements.
Party leaders alleged that the Raje government sensed a defeat in the Assembly elections and was therefore indulging in cheap politics purely for votes.