Colour TVs are passé. So the BJP has a grand vision.
It will give every family below the poverty line a free smart mobile phone, a laptop for Rs 10,000 and a subsidised broadband connection to let the poor surf the World Wide Web.
The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani held out this promise on Saturday as he released the party’s “IT Vision Document for Transforming India, Empowering Bharat”. This is the first time that a national party has promised freebies to the electorate. The smart phones could even be used by illiterate users to access their bank accounts, Advani said.
“A future NDA government, if elected to office in the coming parliamentary elections, would give high priority to the realisation of this vision,” he said. The party is linking this to another promise: bank accounts for all Indians within three years.
Nearly 27 per cent of India’s billion plus population was below poverty line in 2001. Official estimates put the number of BPL families at 4.5 crore, considering there would be 5-6 people per family.
With the smart phones costing Rs 8,000-9,000 each, the BJP has promised to dole out Rs 36,000 crore on them alone. This is half the value of the farm waiver package announced by the UPA government last year for debt-ridden farmers.
The BJP has also promised 1.2 crore IT-enabled jobs in rural India — 20 in each of the six lakh villages — and laptops worth Rs 10,000 each for 1 crore students with interest-free loans to those who can’t afford it. The document also promises broadband Internet connectivity in each village at less than Rs 200 a month.