With eye on Bihar polls, BJP rolls out rakhi insurance for women

  • Kumar Uttam, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 21, 2015 03:22 IST
A Muslim artisan displays a "Rakhi" or traditional Indian sacred thread, featuring India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi after giving it the finishing touches inside a workshop in Ahmedabad. During Raksha Bandhan, a sister ties a Rakhi on her brother's wrist to ask him for her protection. (Reuters Photo/Amit Dave)

The BJP has set out to woo a major chunk of Bihar’s electorate before the assembly polls, offering an accidental insurance scheme to women through a party programme during the Raksha Bandhan festival.

The party will organise camps where any woman tying a rakhi on a BJP member’s hand is set to get a lucrative return gift — an accidental insurance of Rs 2 lakh at a cut-price premium of Rs 12 a year under the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojna.

These women will be enrolled into the Union government-funded insurance scheme at the party’s special rakhi programme, named Raksha Bandhan Suraksha Abhiyan which was formally launched on August 15 and set to reach its peak on August 29.

“We have planned to enroll at least 11,000 women in each assembly constituency across the country during this programme,” BJP general secretary Anil Jain said.

That works out to nearly 27 lakh beneficiaries: 11,000 women multiplied by 243 assembly constituencies in the state. The BJP got about 48 lakh votes, fielding candidates in 102 seats in the previous Bihar election.

Although a nationwide campaign, it was timed to garner maximum mileage before the polls in Bihar where women voters — comprising 46,65% of the total electorate in the state — had overwhelmingly supported Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) in the 2010 election.

Billed as the Battle for Bihar, a victory in the autumn election is important for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP to dust off the dirt from the Delhi election defeat and a series of political storms in Parliament that has slowed down the government’s reforms push.

For the anti-BJP alliance of Kumar, Lalu Prasad and the Congress, a loss will hurtle them to political wilderness after the humiliating rout in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

BJP general secretary Jain, who is in-charge of the rakhi programme, said banks would be invited to the camps for on-spot enrollment of women into the insurance scheme. “The premium amount would be borne by the insurance-holder. Several sponsors have come forward to help, too,” he said.

Another BJP leader said Bihar party workers have been asked to ensure maximum enrollment before the model code of conduct sets in.

Party sources said each MP has been asked to monitor the programme in their parliamentary constituencies. “This is one of the ways to popularise the initiative of the Narendra Modi government as well as provide social security to our sisters. Every party reaches out to a section of society in its own way. We planned this exercise,” a BJP leader said.

In the ninth edition of his Man Ki Baat programme in June, even Modi had appealed to the people to gift the insurance schemes to “sisters”, such as those working as domestic help or farmhand. The rakhi programme was drawn up from the PM’s radio appeal.

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