Paddy harvest being dried. (Representational Image)
Paddy harvest being dried. (Representational Image)

Free foodgrain scheme gets booster ahead of assembly elections in five states

PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, announced in the wake of the imposition of nationwide lockdown last year, will cost the exchequer a whopping Rs 2.60 lakh crore

NEW DELHI: Staying the course to give the BJP a poll booster ahead of the Assembly elections in five states, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave its nod to extend the PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana — wherein 5 kg of foodgrains per person is given each month — till March 2022. The Cabinet also approved the legislative proposal to repeal the three contentious farm laws enacted by Parliament last year, to give effect to the Prime Minister’s recent announcement, which was also aimed at mitigating the potential electoral damage to the BJP in poll-bound states. 

PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, announced in the wake of the imposition of nationwide lockdown last year, will cost the exchequer a whopping Rs 2.60 lakh crore, with its fifth phase from December 2021 to March 2022 alone costing Rs 53,344 crore. 

The BJP-led government at the Centre had started giving poll cushion to the party after the outcome of the largest by-elections in which the saffron outfit saw reversals in Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, and Rajasthan with Madhya Pradesh being the sole exception. The decision to reduce the excise duty on petrol and diesel was the first major step, which was followed up with Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing the repeal of the three contentious farm laws. The legislative proposals to amend the list of the scheduled tribes for Uttar Pradesh and Tripura are also on the cards. 

PM Garib Kalyan Yojana claims to cover 80 crore people in its ambit and is running uninterrupted since April 2020, with the first four phases witnessing allocation of 600 lakh tonnes of foodgrains to states and Union territories. 

The Centre is currently on an infrastructure inauguration and foundation-laying spree in UP, with the PM slated to lay the foundation of the Jewar international airport in the state on Thursday. He had unveiled the Pooravanchal expressway recently. 

Four out of five states heading for the Assembly elections during February-March 2022 are currently ruled by the BJP, with the Congress being the main rival of the saffron outfit in Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur and Punjab. The crucial state of Uttar Pradesh is bracing for a multi-cornered contest.

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