Chhattisgarh CM woos rural voters with kerosene

Updated on Feb 18, 2008 07:06 PM IST
With the assembly election due later this year, CM Raman Singh launches a scheme to provide kerosene oil at subsidised rates, reports Ejaz Kaiser.
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HT Image
Hindustan Times | ByEjaz Kaiser, Raipur

After the launch of ambitious 'Rs 3 per kg rice for BPL families' scheme, the BJP government in Chhattisgarh now woos the rural voters with kerosene.

With the assembly election due later this year, Chief Minister Raman Singh launched yet another scheme 'Ujiyara Yojana' in Raipur on Saturday. It is aimed to provide kerosene oil at the rate of Rs 10 per litre at people's doorstep. The scheme would be initially launched in the identified 86 tribal development blocks through the local weekly market 'haat bazar'.

"The government would ensure 2 litres of kerosene to every poor villager in the haat market at the poverty-hit hamlets", said Pravin Sharma of the State Civil Supplies Corporation Limited told Hindustan Times. The present monthly quota of the state is 13000 kilo litres. "We would definitely ask the Government of India for more allocation if the demand of kerosene goes up", stated Sharma, who is supervising the scheme.

The state-owned civil supplies corporation has been made the nodal agency for the distribution of kerosene under the new scheme.

"Its not just the scheme but the easy availability of kerosene that matters", said the chief minister.

According to the officials 'in the first phase 50 tankers would be pressed into distribution work of kerosene, which would be gradually increased'.

The state BJP leadership believe the party's victory in the recent assembly by-poll in Keshkal (Bastar) in the Naxal stronghold have given indication of the 'initial' success of the chief minister food security scheme (Mukhyamantri Khadyanna Sahayta Yojana).

This has further encouraged the ruling saffron party to continue its focus in the improverised regions of the state where people reportedly struggle to get food grains and kerosene from the Public Distribution System (PDS).

A senior tribal BJP leader claimed that the nexus between the local businessmen and officials are responsible for the PDS failure in the vast poverty-hit areas of the state that proved detrimental to the image of the BJP. "With overwhelming response from the subsidised rice, the party decided to launch a new kerosene distribution scheme to augment better prospect of the party", he said and further added that simply doing well in road development, irrigation and industrial sectors would not help.

However the main opposition Congress Party doubts that the schemes on rice and kerosene would succeed. "The new schemes which the ruling party launched in the election year would collapse as seen earlier in the cases of distribution of cows free of cost to tribal families, foot-wears (charanpadukone) to tendu leaf pluckers, supply of salt at 25 paise per kilogram among others", said the Congress spokesperson Ramesh Varlyani.

However the political analysts say that if the welfare schemes are sincerely implemented the BJP would be able to reap its benefits in the next assembly election.

On January 16, 2008, the Mukhyamantri Khadyanna Sahayta Yojana was launched to provide 35 kg of rice every month to around 34 lakh families at a price of Rs three per kilogram. The government officials have been asked to maintain strict surveillance to prevent any malfunctioning and corruption in the rice distribution scheme.

Around 42 per cent of the Chhattisgarh's population lives below the poverty line.

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