Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday said that his scheme to distribute free smartphones has been approved by the state cabinet.
Members of opposition parties said that Samajwadi Party’s move, on the lines of its ‘game changer’ of announcing free laptops to students before the 2012 assembly elections, is aimed at garnering more votes in the 2017 elections.
The free smartphone distribution scheme was formally cleared by the state cabinet on Thursday with some changes to the proposal made on September 5. To avail a smartphone, a UP resident has to attain the age of 18 years as on January 1, 2017, and have a minimum educational qualification of high school, for eligibility under the scheme.
“Following the aim of #DigitalUP, #UPCM announces the ‘Samajwadi Smart Phone Scheme’. #SamajwadiSmartPhone,” the CM Office, GoUP @CMOfficeUP tweeted.
Applicants or guardians of the applicants should not be grade-1 or grade-2 employees and should have an annual income less than Rs6 lakh, officials said. Earlier, the annual income limit was Rs2 lakh.
Under the previous proposal, government employees and applicants whose parents were government employees were not eligible under the smartphone scheme. This criterion has been changed now and will cover more citizens.
The decision also stated that the distribution will be done in the second half of 2017, after the procurement is done through global bids. However, officials said that the registration for the smartphones will be started within a month.
This would mean that the smartphones will be distributed to the applicants only if the Samajwadi Party comes to power in 2017 assembly elections.
Rajiv Tyagi, the spokesperson for UP Congress Committee, said, “Instead of distributing smartphones, the government should be smart enough and work to empower farmers, labourers and youth. The sugarcane prices for farmers were not increased and the law and order situation has worsened. The distribution of mobile phone is to benefit private companies, similar to the free laptop scheme. There is no electricity to even charge the distributed laptops.”
Chandra Mohan, spokesperson, Bharatiya Janata Party, UP, said, “The state government is shying away from its responsibilities and indulging in hollow promises. First, the government should provide all laptops and tabloids as promised. A normal UP voter understands politics behind all this.”