Free electricity connections to 4 crore rural households, another political jumla

New Delhi: It was much ado about nothing: the road map for economic turnaround is still elusive; rather, with the clock ticking for the incumbent Modi government, the Prime Minister announced four crore free power connections to the rural poor. It is supposed to yield dividend in the 2019 elections.

“New India will not only have power in all villages but in every home,” said PM Modi on Monday evening while the announcing the
Saubhagya scheme, adding, “We have decided the burden for this will not be borne by the poor. The poor had to go around in circles trying to get power… the government will now go to their doorstep to give them electricity.”

The government aims to provide electricity to all homes by December 2018, with a target of reaching power to all un-electrified villages by the end of December this year. The beneficiaries of free electricity connections would be identified using Socio Economic
and Caste Census 02011 data, the government said.

Families not covered under the data would also be provided electricity connections under the scheme on payment of Rs. 500 which shall be recovered by the service providers in 10 installments through an electricity bill.In 2015, PM Modi had announced that the government would electrify all 18,452 villages without power in 1,000 days.

But the scheme apart, PM Modi preferred not to speak on his economic policies which are under attack from the Opposition, be it demonetisation or the faulty implementation of the Goods and Services Tax; nor did the BJP national executive adopt any resolution on economy, as it does in every session.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who briefed the media on Modi’s concluding remarks at the national executive here, said the PM has left it for the party to defend his economic policies. The party adopted a political resolution hailing GST as the nation’s biggest reform since Independence while union minister Nitin Gadkari underlined how demonetisation has helped mop up “black” money and brought a large number of people in the income tax bracket.

Even in his presidential address, party president Amit Shah denied any economic slowdown and cited data to state that the economy is stronger under the BJP-led NDA government, than it was under the previous Congress-led UPA government. Modi, who sat through the deliberations of the executive, fed up with everyone talking about the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, asked party men to “look beyond elections” and make the party an “instrument of mass participation.”

“While traditional politics will go on, with the mandate that we have got, we are taking democracy beyond elections,” the Prime Minister was quoted as telling the closed-door meeting of the executive in the Talkatora Stadium here, saying he is determined to evolve a new era of public participation in governance, as that alone will improve quality of life.

Political representatives must adhere to public participation, he said, pointing out that “if people don’t participate, no drive can succeed.” Making it clear that his government will not compromise on corruption and “the fight will go on until corruption is wiped out,” Modi said that he has no relatives who can tarnish his image by engaging in acts of corruption. He said he would not tolerate corruption even in his own party, as for him the country is first, the party second.”

He also expressed happiness that there is no political organisation in the country today as active as the BJP. In his opening address, Amit Shah said the BJP government had demonstrated patience and perseverance in its resolution of the Doklam standoff with China. He also praised Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj for her speech attacking Pakistan at the United Nations General Assembly; he also highlighted the BJP government’s achievements, including its handling of Naxalism and terrorism in its three years of rule.

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