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Election Alchemy: Will Ladli Behna be a game-changer in the upcoming MP elections?


In Madhya Pradesh, women constitute 2.79% of the 13.39 lakh new voters. The impact of this electorate and its growing influence in shaping the state's political future cannot be overstated.

Previously, constituencies with higher women voter turnout overwhelmingly favoured the BJP. The party's popularity among women voters is evident, with data indicating a substantial 46% of women supporting the BJP in 2013.

Amidst the BJP's lead in voting polls for the upcoming election, the question lingers: will the Ladli Behna Scheme be a game-changer in the upcoming elections? The BJP's proactive schemes resonate with women and can influence their support. This article aims to evaluate the impact of the Ladli Behna Scheme and explore how this initiative has not only empowered women but also significantly influenced the upcoming election's trajectory.

Ladli Behna Scheme: A Brief Overview

In Madhya Pradesh, gender disparities in labour force participation have long been a pressing concern. Recognizing the critical need to bridge the economic gender gap and empower women in both rural and urban areas, the Honourable Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh took a momentous step on January 28, 2023. The leader announced the implementation of the "Mukhyamantri Ladli Behna Yojana," a groundbreaking initiative aimed at bolstering the economic independence of women across the state under which Rs 1000 which later was increased to ₹1,250 per month will be given to women. The Chief Minister has also promised gradual increments to address inflation, ultimately reaching ₹3000 per month. Following are the details of the financial outlay as well as the number of beneficiaries of the scheme for the financial year 2023:

Budget Allocated Budget Disbursed Number of Beneficiaries
₹8,000 crore ₹3,628.85 crore 1,25,23,437

To qualify for the scheme, applicants must be women without a permanent job or tax-paying status. The Ladli Behna Scheme initially focused on women aged 23 to 60, aiming to uplift those who need it the most. Later, the Chief Minister extended eligibility to unmarried women above 21, broadening the scheme's reach and empowering more women in Madhya Pradesh.

Impact of Ladli Behna on Socio-Economic Empowerment

The government's mission was to empower one crore women across the State through this scheme. Remarkably, by the closing date of April 30, a staggering 1,25,23,437 women enrolled in the scheme, demonstrating the widespread impact and response from the women of the State. Presenting this initiative as a 'game-changer' for women, the Ladli Behna Yojna also serves as an antidote to counter prevailing issues such as inflation, and unemployment.

Women often find themselves sidelined in decision-making processes. The Ladli Behna Yojna, with its central objective of fostering financial empowerment and self-reliance among women in the state, addresses this disparity head-on. By providing financial assistance directly, the scheme integrates women into household financial planning and decision-making processes making the scheme a catalyst for change especially in rural areas. By enabling women to actively contribute to their households' financial decisions, this scheme not only enhances their economic independence but also uplifts families and communities.

The financial support provided by Ladli Behna Yojna enables women to explore opportunities beyond basic necessities. The scheme helps in transforming the socio-economic landscape by enhancing the overall quality of life for these women. They can invest in small businesses and pursue their interests without the burden of survival concerns, fostering independence and entrepreneurship among women in the state.

What sets LBY apart is its unique approach in India – the monthly income support directly reaches the accounts of women registered solely in their name, not jointly held with family members. Recently, India's Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme like Ladli Behna has been, deemed as a "logistical marvel by the International Monetary Fund.

Impact of Ladli Behna on Elections and its Political Implications

The political landscape in the state has witnessed significant shifts in power dynamics. In the previous MP Assembly polls held in 2018, Congress needed only two more votes to secure a majority, leading to a coalition government with other smaller parties. However, political tides turned swiftly and several MLAs loyal to Jyotiraditya Scindia switched over to the BJP, resulting in the fall of the government and the return of the BJP to power under Shivraj Singh Chouhan's leadership.

Recognizing the women voter base in Madhya Pradesh, the government made a provision of ₹1,02,976 crore solely for women’s welfare with ₹8,000 crore allocated for the Ladli Behna Scheme. With the monthly financial aid alongside a substantial 35% reservation for women in government jobs as well as providing gas cylinders for Rs 450, the BJP government has created a comprehensive ecosystem to uplift women economically and socially. The party's strategic focus on women-oriented schemes, such as Ladli Lakshmi Scheme, Ujjwala Scheme, Kanya Vivah-Nikah Yojana, and Gaon Ki Beti Yojana, showcases its dedication to women's welfare. Investing in women's economic empowerment serves as a direct pathway toward achieving gender equality, eradicating poverty, and promoting inclusive economic growth.

Dhruv Research conducted a survey to understand the impact of some of these schemes in Madhya Pradesh and found women-centric schemes finding place in the top 5.

Note: The data is based on a survey of over 2 lakhs voters in Madhya Pradesh (Dec’22-Jan’23). Ladli Behna was not included in the study, as the scheme was launched on 15-March-2023

A survey conducted by Muslim Rashtriya Manch showcased strong support from Muslim voters in Muslim-majority areas towards BJP, which further emphasise the party’s effectiveness in appealing to diverse demographics.This is despite the Congress party's attempts to appeal to women voters, including their promise of providing monthly support ranging from ₹500 to ₹1,500 to school students. Voters seem to resonate more with established and operational initiatives like Ladli Behna over potential, unimplemented ones.

This shift signifies not only the effectiveness of the Ladli Behna Yojana but also the BJP's success in appealing to diverse demographics. The ability of this scheme to sway women voters is rooted in its tangible results and direct impact on the lives of beneficiaries. The financial support empowering women translates into political support, influencing the election outcome by garnering allegiance from women across various backgrounds.

However, critics argue that this move contradicts the BJP's opposition to the freebie culture advocated by the Prime Minister. The BJP government, in power for the past 18 years, has strategically launched the Ladli Behna Yojana merely seven months before the Assembly elections, seemingly in an attempt to sway women voters. Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi's stance against the 'revdi' culture (freebies), the state government under Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan launched this scheme, labelling it as a 'social revolution'. The state government has been accused of prioritising political advantage over financial prudence.

Challenges faced by the Ladli Behna Scheme

The Ladli Behna Yojana faces significant hurdles in its implementation. Deep-rooted social norms, digital illiteracy, and limited access to resources pose major challenges for eligible women. Many women, especially those unfamiliar with online forms, require external assistance, creating potential exploitation channels. Moreover, lack of essential documents, slow internet in rural areas, and difficulties in opening bank accounts hamper the application process.

Furthermore, illiterate women, who struggle with digital tools are often overlooked by existing government interventions. Limited access to mobile phones exacerbates these issues. In Madhya Pradesh, which boasts the highest tribal population in the country, digital technology access is alarmingly low, with only one out of 20 households having a computer, according to the NFHS survey. Although the government has launched the e Shakti campaign, to bridge the digital divide, there is a need for more comprehensive strategies to ensure the Ladli Behna Yojana's effectiveness and reach.

Future Prospects and Conclusion

The Ladli Behna Scheme has undeniably made a positive impact on numerous women, alleviating their financial burden by providing essential resources through a monthly stipend. The role this initiative plays in shifting the voting preferences of women in favour of the BJP is evident. However, the effectiveness of the scheme in overcoming potential anti-incumbency challenges remains a subject of scrutiny. Some segments of the population, who perceive these initiatives as “freebies” may harbour reservations. Despite these concerns, it is reasonable to conclude that marginalised women, whose lives have been profoundly affected by the scheme, are more inclined to support the BJP.

As the scheme continues to transform lives, there is a shared hope among beneficiaries and advocates alike that it will persist beyond the elections. However, it is crucial for the government to not only provide monthly assistance but also address the underlying structural issues that perpetuate the need for financial aid among women. By identifying and resolving these challenges, such as limited access to education, employment opportunities, etc the government can empower women to achieve financial independence without relying solely on government assistance. This will lead to a more inclusive and prosperous Madhya Pradesh, where women are not just recipients of aid but active participants in the state's progress.

  1. Madhya Pradesh announces Ladli Behna Yojana aid hike, 35% job reservation for women ahead of polls
  2. Madhya Pradesh Elections 2023: Why women voters are important | A look at numbers
  3. Ladli Behna Scheme: MP govt hikes financial aid, 35% reservation in govt jobs for women ahead of Rakhi | Mint
  4. MP Assembly elections: Shivraj govt includes unmarried women above 21 years of age in Ladli Behna Yojana | Madhya News – India TV
  5. Explained: Why IMF called India's direct benefit transfer scheme a 'logistical marvel'
  6. Madhya Pradesh Budget | Polls in sight, focus on women, jobs and tribal welfare; no new taxes - The Hindu
  7. ‘Ladli Behna Yojana’ | Madhya Pradesh CM launches scheme for women with eye on polls - The Hindu
  8. Muslim Voters Show Support for BJP - Survey Reveals - INVC
  9. MP polls: Congress hopes to counter BJP’s Ladli Behna with student cash scheme - Hindustan T imes
  10. Ladli Behna Yojna: Empowering Women For Sustainable Development
  11. Only 5% Homes In Mp Have Computer, Half Sans Internet | Indore News - Times of India

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