Parties dangle goodies before Chhattisgarh voters

March 21st, 2008 - 10:19 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Bahujan Samaj Party
By Sujeet Kumar`
Raipur, March 21 (IANS) Subsidised rice, cash, land…it’s raining offers for voters in Chhattisgarh as political parties are already going all out to woo them for assembly polls scheduled in November. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) launched a scheme in January to provide up to 35 kg of rice to 3.4 million poor families every month at Rs.3 per kg. It covers over 60 percent of the state’s 20.08 million population.

As if to match that, the opposition Congress that lost power to the BJP in November 2003 has said it would offer rice to poor families at Rs.2 a kg if voted to power this year.

Another outfit, the Chhattisgarh Vikas Party which promises justice to the indigenous inhabitants of the state, has offered Rs.1,750 per month to voters as a Votership Pension Scheme if it comes to power.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has made an open offer of three acres of government land to poor families if it gets a chance to rule the mineral-rich state.

The government is busy tomtomming its Rs.3 per kg of rice offer under the Chief Minister Food Security Scheme.

“The Rs.8.37 billion annual outlay for the scheme is proving to be a model for other states. I have reports that several states are now in the process of implementing the scheme in their states to win the hearts of people,” Chief Minister Raman Singh told IANS.

“Impressed by the scheme, several food and agriculture experts are coming to Raipur for a two-day function beginning March 25 to debate the scheme. It is really one of the best schemes to handle poverty and help out a vast starved population.”

BJP leaders here say the packaged rice distribution scheme being carried out through 10,400 public distribution outlets was the brainchild of the chief minister and was good enough to help the party retain power.

But Congress state general secretary and spokesman Ramesh Varlyani said: “The scheme is just an eye wash. The government knows it has just a few months left in power and in a last attempt to anyhow retain power, it has offered the bait.”

“This scheme is set to boomerang on the BJP. People are highly upset as the rice packets are going to the houses of BJP cadres rather than poor families,” he said.

“The Congress is always committed to poor people and the party will provide rice to poor families at Rs.2 a kg after it comes to power.”

The Chhattisgarh Vikas Party has appealed to the people to vote it to power if they want development in the state. Led by former BJP Lok Sabha MP P.R. Khunte, it says in a 62-page booklet that it is committed to implementing the Votership Pension Scheme that will give Rs.1,750 per month in cash to voters.

“The monthly cash commitment stands only if the party comes to power,” the booklet reads. The scheme will initially be for voters who cast votes in favour of the party but its leaders are silent on how they will identify such voters.

The BSP claims to have developed a considerable base in the past four years, mainly among the Scheduled Castes (SC) and the Scheduled Tribes (ST) that form about 40 percent of the state’s population and for which 44 seats - 34 for ST and 10 for SC - out of the total 90 assembly seats are reserved.

Party supremo Mayawati, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, who addressed a public meeting in January here, announced: “The BSP will hand over three acres of government land to poor families if it comes to power in Chhattisgarh.”

Party cadres are now busy holding camps and street meetings across the state to brief voters about “Mayawati’s open offer to vast deprived sections of Chhattisgarh”.

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