It was a smart move made to look smarter by the rich dividends it paid. But a year after the BJP stormed back to power in Madhya Pradesh riding on a promise to provide free smartphones to youth, it has remained just that – a promise.
On December 14, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan will complete one year in office of his third stint in the top post with a mixed bag of success and failures.
Political analyst Girijashankar, for one, felt that the government has not made much headway in fulfilling the commitments made in the party’s poll manifesto.
"The chief minister’s emphasis is always on programmes and events. Like, the government held the global investors’ summit at Indore but there was no focus on MoUs. It had more of a political significance than financial for the CM as he succeeded in inviting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the summit," Girijashankar said.
Students, who got admitted to colleges after the promise of free smartphones, agreed.
"We have already appeared in the first semester examination. If the scheme was introduced to check the rate of dropouts from colleges the government would hardly be able to achieve the objective," said Mayank Singh, a BCom 1st year student in Bhopal’s Hamidia College.
His contention was that many who fail the first-year exams may not return as they are yet to get their promised phones.
It is not that the government sat idle on this promise but a lack of homework was evident in the manner the party hastily made the announcement.
Official sources said that despite floating of tenders to provide smartphones to about 1.75 lakh students no company came forward to offer a device for roughly Rs 3000 apiece. Tenders have been issued again.
Other unfulfilled promises include 15 lakh houses for the poor, self-employment schemes for 5 lakh youth, ownership of dwellings to slum dwellers, medicare policy for the poor and middle class and linking of all villages with road network besides other schemes.
Ruling party leaders, however, attributed the "failure" to the model code of conduct for the Lok Sabha elections in April-May and the civic body polls recently.
BJP’s media in-charge Hitesh Bajpai pointed out that the promises in the manifesto are meant to the fulfilled over a period of five years. He also pointed to the successful global investors’ summit and launching of CM Helpline as major successes.
The helpline is aimed at assisting the people to get their work done by dialing a pre-assigned number.
How far it is successful is a hard call to take.