MP Elections 2023: With ‘Rakhi Gift’ for ‘Ladli Behnas’, Shivraj Singh Chouhan Risks Slippery Freebie Slope – News18

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan and Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia during a roadshow at Pichhore in Shivpuri district of Madhya Pradesh on August 21, 2023. (PTI)

The Madhya Pradesh government is planning to triple the Ladli Behna Yojana assistance to Rs 3,000 per month for 1.25 crore women before Assembly elections. While similar sops reaped electoral dividends for the Congress in Karnataka, delivering on them is proving to be a fiscal nightmare. Will MP meet similar fate?

Madhya Pradesh Election 2023

This Raksha Bandhan promises to be extra special for around 1.25 crore women in Madhya Pradesh with the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government planning to increase the Ladli Behna Yojana assistance from Rs 1,000 per month to at least Rs 1,250.

The government in facts plans to incrementally increase the monthly assistance that reaches the women’s bank accounts directly to Rs 3,000. The BJP confirmed to News18 that the Rs 3,000-mark would be reached before the MP elections due later this year.

RAKSHA BANDHAN & FREEBIE POLITICS

The government has aptly chosen Raksha Bandhan on August 30 to announce the first increment in the Ladli Behna Yojana.

Speaking to News18, Madhya Pradesh BJP’s Media Cell Head, Lokendra Parashar, said: “The amount of the scheme will be increased by Rs 250. The first announcement is coming very soon. The target is to reach Rs 3,000 per month per person for 1.25 crore women. The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government will reach that mark before November.”

Assembly elections in the state are expected to be held in November.

On August 27, Chouhan will hold early rakhi celebrations with some beneficiaries of the scheme in Bhopal’s Jamburi Maidan. Sources say lakhs of women, who are actual beneficiaries of the Ladli Behna Yojana, will be present, with the administration tasked with arranging safe travel and food.

The CM is also scheduled to address the gathering that day and speculation is rife that he may announce increase in the monetary assistance on August 27 itself.

RACE TO MATCH CONGRESS PROMISE?

The BJP government’s attempts at making its freebies look more attractive come after Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, at a rally in the state, reminded voters of the party’s lucrative promises in Karnataka where it swept to power last year.

“Every month, women will be given Rs 1,500. Gas cylinders will be available for Rs 500 and 100 units of electricity will be free. The cost of 200 units will be halved. The old pension scheme will be implemented in Madhya Pradesh and poor farmers in heavy debt will get complete loan waiver,” she had said in the June rally.

Apart from increasing the assistance to women, the Chouhan government has promised to transfer Rs 2,000 to the bank accounts of 80 lakh farmers in the state as the biannual instalment for CM Kisan Kalyan Yojana started last year. This is in addition to three instalments of Rs 2,000 each sent to farmers every year by the Centre under the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme.

Riding on tall freebie promises, the Congress managed to come to power in both Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh, forcing Chouhan, too, to take the risky route. The BJP’s refusal to promise freebies as opposed to the Congress’s promise of Rs 2,000 per month to women had cost the saffron party dear in the southern state.

Chouhan had launched the Ladli Behna Yojana earlier this year, under which the state government stands to spend a whopping Rs 12,500 crore per year. The cost to the exchequer increases with the increment of Rs 250.

While similar sops reaped electoral dividends for the Congress in Karnataka, delivering on them is proving to be a fiscal nightmare with the state’s Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar openly admitting that lack of funds will stall all development in the state for a year. Himachal Pradesh, even before the deluge caused by torrential rains, was showing signs of discomfort.

Will Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s Raksha Bandhan gift come with a similar hidden cost?