State: Big Announcements, Fake Promises
Akhilesh Yadav government seems to have shifted its focus to infrastructure development, in a move, clearly belying his extreme frustration over the Samajwadi Party's washout in the recent Lok Sabha election in UP and has struck down three marquee schemes aimed at the youth. The promises of providing cycles and laptops before elections have proved as freebies now.
No provision has been made in the present budget for these schemes — the free tablet and laptop distribution, kanya vidya dhan and unemployment allowance scheme. “This is clearly Akhilesh's way of lashing back at the youth who did not vote for the SP despite getting so many freebies,” said senior political analyst Pradeep Kapoor.
The CM is keen on running the first metro rail before next assembly elections so that he can showcase the project as his development model in UP. To spearhead the project, the government has roped in the best known talent in this field, 'metro-man' E Sreedharan.
The government has set out the tenders for construction work to begin in September. To start off the first phase of the project from Transport Nagar to Charbagh railway station, the government has made initial funding of Rs 95 crore.
In his third budget, Yadav, also doubles up as the state's finance minister, appeared gravitating towards his party's core constituencies like agriculture and rural sectors. However, by avoiding new taxes or cess, the government also made it clear that it was not in a mood to take bitter pills to improve the fiscal management.
Having got a drubbing in Lok Sabha elections, the SP government has now found it prudent to invest in its pivotal constituency leaving aside the peripheral it found through popular schemes. Therefore, about 75 per cent of the Rs 95, 039 crore plan expenditure has been earmarked for development of agriculture, rural areas and farming community.
At a press conference afterwards, Akhilesh was at pain to defend the volley of questions about the dumping of his game-changer schemes like free distribution of laptops and unemployment allowance which helped his party gain power in 2012. Without offering any concrete reply, he explained that the budget aimed at improving the infrastructure and agriculture so that it would be able to prevent migration from the rural to urban pockets. “The focus now is on bijli, sadak, paani and economic activities, not on the doles,” he said.
The main highlights of the new budget are a record sanction of Rs 23.928 crore for power sector reforms; Rs 359 crore for the construction of toilets in the rural areas, Rs 95 crore for Metro rail project in the state capital, Rs 49,108 crore — about 82 per cent higher than the previous budget — for strengthening and upkeep of infrastructure mainly roads, bridges, irrigation and power; Rs 7,625 crore for agriculture and allied services; Rs 14,377 crore for medical and health and Rs 25,522 crore for welfare programmes for the SC/ STs and the minorities.
Allotment of for Rs 329 crore for rural toilets and linking of habitats with a population of 500 or more has been set, underlines the new priorities of the ruling party. Rs 7,625 for agriculture and allied activities also are noticeable in the new thinking of the ruling party leadership. Nearly Rs 50,000 crore for infrastructure facilities such as roads, bridges and irrigation and power also indicates towards the new priority of the government which has now dumped freebies for good infrastructure and improved agriculture.
The focus on the agriculture and rural infrastructure makes it abundantly clear tha the ruling party is back cultivating the core constituency of the middle castes (OBCs) and the middle class peasantry while focusing on the overall development of infrastructure. —Bureau Report