In poll-bound Chhattisgarh, over 5 million free smartphones for women, students
The Congress described the ruling BJP’s move as unconstitutional and politically motivated in an election year (the current assembly’s tenure ends on January 5, 2019).india Updated: Jan 31, 2018 23:48 IST
By the time Chhattisgarh has assembly elections this year, hundreds of thousands of women and college students across the state will be holding free smartphones. These will come to them under chief minister Raman Singh’s Sanchar Kranti Yojana (SKY) project, which he announced last year.
The Congress described the ruling BJP’s move as unconstitutional and politically motivated in an election year (the current assembly’s tenure ends on January 5, 2019), but Singh is unfazed.
“I am focused on good governance and if good governance is politics, so be it,” said the CM, who has been in power uninterrupted since December 7, 2003.
“SKY is a unique scheme with multiple benefits and no parallel. Smartphones are arguably the most empowering tool today for socio-economic uplift and since these phones will be distributed to women, it will also achieve women’s empowerment,” he added. “This scheme will be a game changer for rural people, particularly in Bastar area.”
According to the government’s plan, 4.06 million smartphones will be given to women heading rural households, 560,000 to women heads of urban poor households, and more than 400,000 to college students — both boys and girls.
The success of SKY will depend largely on how the government improves connectivity in the state hit worst by Maoist violence. An official associated with SKY said, “Mobile penetration in Chhattisgarh is only 29.15%, the lowest in India. Building towers in Maoist zones is a tough task, but the government is determined to push through.”
Asked about the difficulties posed by Maoists, Aman Singh, principal secretary, electronics & IT department, said: “We have decided to provide necessary security for the installation of towers in LWE (left-wing extremism affected areas).” The Chhattisgarh government plans to initiate its smartphone distribution tentatively by April and conclude it by the end of March 2019, by when polls would have ended.
Chhattisgarh Congress leader Sailesh Nitin Trivedi said, “The government is using the state exchequer for its political motive. They are forcing gram panchayats to divert 70% of their money to install the towers, which is unconstitutional.”