Telangana adds 4 more mandals to ₹1.75 lakh cr Dalit welfare scheme
The Telangana government on Wednesday added four more mandals to the ₹1.75 lakh crores Dalit Bandhu scheme, each from a constituency represented by a Dalit lawmaker.
Under the scheme, each beneficiary will receive financial assistance of ₹10 lakh.
A statement from chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) office said to understand the intricacies of the scheme, KCR decided to extend the new scheme to the following four mandals: Chintakani mandal (Madhira Constituency, Khammam district), Tirmalgiri mandal (Tungaturthy constituency, Suryapet district), Charakonda Mandal (Achampet, Nagar Kurnool district) and Nizamsagar mandal (Jukkal seat, Kamareddy district).
For the initial implementation of the scheme, which is a brainchild of KCR, the Huzurabad Assembly seat was chosen (pilot project). For this, ₹2,000 crores were released in four instalments in August. The move drew criticism from the opposition, which said that Huzurabad was chosen as it is going for a by-election soon.
“Telangana Dalit Bandhu Scheme will be implemented for all the Dalit families in these Mandals,” said the statement from KCR’s office. The statement further stated that after his trip to New Delhi, the chief minister would convene a review meeting in Hyderabad with ministers, MLAs, and district collectors from these concerned areas.
Decisions taken at this proposed meeting will be implemented in these four mandals. KCR will be in New Delhi on September 2 to inaugurate the new office of his party, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).
Under the Dalit Bandhu scheme, all eligible Scheduled Caste (SC) members will receive financial assistance of ₹10 lakh from the state government. Initially, KCR announced that 100 candidates would be chosen from each of the state’s 119 Assembly segments, totalling 11,900 candidates, after a meeting with Dalit leaders of all political parties on June 25.
The state sanctioned an initial amount of ₹1,200 crores for the same. However, KCR then decided to extend the scheme to all Dalits and even promised to spend ₹1.75 lakh crore in a phased manner to help uplift Dalits from poverty.
“The government may be studying the ground scenario and analysing the response among people for the scheme. The ruling TRS may be seeing how the public responds and what the negatives might be before rolling it out. Or it could be to check the repercussions from other caste groups as well,” said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.
Reddy opined that the challenge for KCR would be to balance support from other caste groups and other communities. However, he said that the scheme is likely launched with an eye on the 2023 state polls. “After (Malkagiri Lok Sabha MP) Revanth Reddy was chosen as the new Congress chief in July, he has drawn a tremendous response from the public in meetings. So KCR is wary of him,” he added.
What is the Dalit Bandhu scheme?
KCR’s promise to the Dalit community is that each SC family in Telangana would be given ₹10 lakh to start any business venture of their choice, without any stress to return the money. The money will be deposited into the accounts of Dalit families, which will serve as the seed capital to start a business. The goal here is the economic empowerment of all Dalits.
At a high-level meeting on August 27, KCR said that the scheme would continue till every “Dalit family is developed”. A CMO release then stated that a comprehensive family survey pointed out that there are 17 lakh, Dalit families, in Telangana and that the SC population in the state stands at 7.5 million (18 per cent).
However, what has raised eyebrows is the fact that the Dalit Bandhu scheme is started on a pilot basis from Huzurabad, which is slated for a by-election. It is being necessitated after former TRS health minister Eatala Rajender was sacked from the cabinet by KCR in May over land-grabbing allegations.
Eatala, who has held the seat for over two decades and is a former aide of KCR, resigned as an MLA in June this year and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). BJP’s chief spokesperson in Telangana Krishna Saagar Rao called the scheme a “bribe” to voters by KCR and said that it is being launched only for the by-poll, which analysts think will be a semi-final to the state 2023 state polls.
“This is indirect corruption. During the previous Huzurnagar by-election in the state, KCR had announced schemes and released funds for other schemes. Wherever there are polls, KCR launches new schemes. He is scared that he will lose the state elections in 2023,” said Congress spokesperson Syed Nizamuddin.