With the Uttarakhand assembly elections due early next year, the BJP is geared up to woo the poor by publicising among them the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna (PMUY), under which they are provided free LPG connections.
The NDA government’s welfare scheme aims to replace the use of firewood with liquid petroleum gas (LPG) for cooking across the country.
Under the scheme, which was launched by Union minister of state for petroleum and natural gas Dharmendra Pradhan in Uttarakhand on June 9, about 5 crore LPG connections will be distributed among the BPL households across the country.
“In Uttarakhand, free-of-cost cooking gas connections will be distributed among about 4 lakh BPL families,” said Dhan Singh Rawat, a senior BJP leader.
It is this vast chunk of the electorate comprising the poorest of the poor as well as women the BJP is eyeing ahead of the polls. The scheme that was launched for four districts initially was on Thursday extended to all the 13 districts in the mountain state.
“These (districts) also include the 10 hill districts where women in most BPL households are prone to all kinds of respiratory ailments and lung diseases like tuberculosis as they are forced to use fuel wood for cooking,” state BJP president Ajay Bhatt told HT. “The ministry of petroleum and natural gas granted the relaxation after Prime Minister Narendra Modi accepted our request.”
The relaxation the scheme was granted for the mountain state shows the priority it is going to get in the saffron party’s poll campaign.
“We noticed that during our ‘pardafas yatra’ we recently took out across the state to expose corruption in the Harish Rawat-led Congress government,” Bhatt said. “In these rallies women far outnumbered men, which is a clear upshot of the recently launched PMUY scheme,” he claimed.
A number of reasons explain for the hill women’s growing enthusiasm for the scheme, according to BJP leaders. “They are happy not just because they are getting free-of-cost household connections for cooking gas. Women are happy because the availability of cooking gas will also spare them the drudgery of bringing head-loads of wood from forests everyday to be able to cook meals,” said Dhan Singh.
“Use of cooking gas also means there will be no cutting of trees, which will help conserve our forests keeping the environment well protected,” Singh said.
BJP workers have started organising camps even in remote hill areas where they motivate the people to register themselves for free LPG connections, Bhatt said, adding that the party would continue to publicise the scheme as part of its election campaign.