NEW DELHI: In the face of the Opposition closing ranks against the government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears to have gone to building his pro-poor credentials by banking on free ration distribution scheme.
He has held interactions with beneficiaries from Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. More such video talks with dole recipients from other states are on the cards. The ruling BJP had in the past drawn comfort from a division in the Opposition ranks. But this time, the government is staring at the prospect of a complete washout of monsoon session in the face of Opposition unity. BJP leaders noted that the party’s loss in West Bengal assembly election had boosted the rivals’ morale, making them eye the 2024 Lok Sabha elections much earlier.
“The government has its mandate from the 2019 Lok Sabha verdict, and it’s accordingly carrying out the business of the governance to fulfill the aspirations of the people. But the Opposition is sensing 2024 poll opportunities,” remarked a Union minister, while speaking to this newspaper.
The Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Yojna, unveiled in the midst of the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, is now seen to be the launch pad by the BJP to consolidate support base among the poor, who had arguably backed the saffron outfit in the Hindi heartland in 2019, with the party cashing in on the implementation of centrally sponsored schemes.
The PM’s interactions with the beneficiaries of the free ration (till Diwali, November) in addition to the National Food Security Act is seemingly designed in a manner that a strong pitch is made on the pro-poor credentials of the government by emphasising the benefits of additional schemes such as PM-Kisan Nidhi. The electoral pitch of the PM’s virtual interactions has also been visible, with a mention of state government’s achievements being the common theme.
With the prime minister directly speaking to the beneficiaries, the BJP hopes to slowly build on its campaigns for the Assembly elections next year in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Goa, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Manipur.