Assembly polls: West Bengal, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu rush to announce last-minute sops
- The model code of conduct, which comes into effect immediately after poll dates are announced by the Election Commission, prohibits governments from making any welfare announcements
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday announced a significant hike in wages of daily workers under the urban employment scheme minutes before the Election Commission announced the dates for the elections of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam, and Puducherry.
The model code of conduct, which comes into effect immediately after poll dates are announced by the EC, prohibits governments from making any welfare announcements, to level the playing field by minimising any undue advantage accruing to ruling parties
“I am pleased to announce a HIKE in the wages of daily wage workers under WB Urban Employment Scheme” Banerjee tweeted to her 5.1 million followers.
Under the new proposal, unskilled workers in the state will now be paid ₹202 instead of the ₹144 they were being paid previously, and the semi-skilled workforce will be paid ₹303 instead of ₹172. The state has also included a new category, that of skilled workers, who will be paid ₹404 per day.
"A total of 56,500 workers (40,500 unskilled, 8000 semi-skilled, 8000 skilled) will benefit from this. These wages are in parity with rural workers’ enhanced pay (MNREGA unskilled & semi-skilled). Budget provision for this step has been made available for both FY21 & FY22," the chief minister said in a second tweet.
Banerjee’s announcements came as West Bengal witnessed a flurry of rallies and speeches on Friday before the EC declared the dates for the upcoming elections. Bharatiya Janata Party heavyweights Rajnath Singh and Smirti Irani were also busy touring the state. Singh attacked the chief minister for not allowing implementation of the Centre’s various schemes in the state.
Tamil Nadu chief minister E Palaniswami too made a pre-poll promise of his own, by declaring a waiver on gold loans against up to six sovereigns given by cooperative banks to farmers and the poor. Palaniswami had announced a similar waiver in the state assembly for farm loans amounting to ₹1,200 crores and affecting 16 lakh farmers.
Poll-bound Puducherry too got a similar last-minute sop. Newly appointed Lieutenant-Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan announced a 2% reduction in VAT (Value Added Tax) on petrol and diesel in the union territory, reported news agency ANI.