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Election Alchemy: Can Welfare Schemes Propel Congress's Comeback Bid in Chhattisgarh?


The congress government under the leadership of Bhupesh Baghel has been actively implementing welfare schemes tailored for every section of the society in the state. The congress government is banking on these schemes to counter the increasing presence of BJP. As the election result draws near, we seek to analyse the potential impact of these welfare programs on swaying the election outcome in favour of the Congress party.

Recognizing that agriculture constitutes a significant portion of Chhattisgarh's economy, with 70% of the population engaged in this sector, the government has instituted various farmer-centric initiatives. Under Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana scheme farmers get subsidy on the agriculture input cost. This strategic measure, disbursed through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), allots farmers an input allowance of Rs. 10,000 per acre in four instalments. A substantial subsidy amounting to ₹16,415 crore as on January 31 2023 has been transferred to 24 lakh farmers, alleviating the financial burden associated with input costs and enhancing agricultural facilities.

For cattle rearers the government launched the Godhan Godhan Nyay Yojana under which cow dung is purchased at ₹2/kg. With 3.23 lakh beneficiaries receiving ₹403.58 crore as on Jan 31 2023, the scheme not only provides economic support but also encourages the utilisation of cow dung as organic fertiliser. Chhattisgarh launched Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Bhoomiheen Krishi Mazdoor Nyay Yojana, a first of its kind scheme tailored for landless labourers. Rolled out in September 2021, it aims to provide financial assistance to landless farmer families in rural areas. In the fiscal year 2022-23, an impressive aid of ₹221.88 crore was disbursed, directly benefiting 4.66 lakh families.

These initiatives show the effort the congress government has made for the welfare of the farmers including landless labourers as well. The transformative impact of these measures is particularly evident in the agricultural landscape of Chhattisgarh. Coupled with the commitment to farm loan waivers, these initiatives create a compelling proposition that is likely to resonate positively with the farming community. While the BJP has also made efforts to court this crucial voter base by pledging enhancements in the pricing of forest produce and tendu leaves, the comprehensive approach taken by the Congress government may prove to be a more influential factor.

The government has undertaken a significant initiative to provide free and high-quality education through the Swami Atmanand Government Excellent (English Medium) School (SAGES). Initially launched with 52 schools in July 2020, the program received widespread acclaim across the state. In response to the positive reception, the state government expanded the initiative, resulting in a total of 727 schools collectively catering to over 2 lakh students.

This initiative has played a pivotal role in making quality education both accessible and affordable for parents from economically weaker sections. Notably, it has had a cascading effect, prompting students from middle-income and high-income families to transition from private schools to these government schools due to the superior quality of education and state-of-the-art infrastructure. This has helped in relieving financial burdens for parents across different income brackets.Families with children enrolled in these schools have collectively saved an impressive Rs 210.54 crore in the last three years, funds that would have otherwise been directed towards private school fees.

It is believed that 10 of the 14 years of Lord Ram's exile transpired in the dense jungles of Dandakaranya, now situated in Chhattisgarh. In an effort to preserve and commemorate this cultural heritage, the state government has undertaken the development of a 2226 km long pilgrimage route known as the 'Ram Van Gaman Path,' with a sanctioned budget of Rs 137.45 crore. Originating from Surguja district in northern Chhattisgarh, this pilgrimage route traverses through the state, culminating in Sukma district. This may potentially influence the Hindu community's sentiments and garner support for the Baghel government.

The government launched Mukhyamantri Shahri Slum Swasthya Yojana which has seen significant success on November 1, 2020, amid the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic for people residing in urban slums. Through the deployment of Mobile Medical Units (MMUs), free health check-ups, treatments, and medicines are offered at the doorstep of individuals in slum areas. Currently, 120 MMUs operate across Chhattisgarh, conducting over 52,892 camps and providing health services to more than 36.76 lakh patients. Additionally, medical tests for 9.18 lakh patients have been carried out, and free medicines distributed to 33.65 lakh patients. The overwhelming response has led to the extension of the scheme to 14 Municipal Corporations, 43 Municipal Councils, and 111 Nagar Panchayats.

Dai-Didi Clinic is the first-of-its-kind scheme in the country providing free health services exclusively to women and adolescent girls living in urban slums across Chhattisgarh. So far 1.43 lakh women living in urban slums have taken the benefit of this scheme. This scheme has come as a major relief particularly for adolescent girls who might be hesitant to go to hospitals for small ailments, especially issues related to menstruation. Mukhyamantri Haat Bazar Clinic is an innovative scheme providing quality healthcare to residents in remote and inaccessible areas. Having benefited over 82 lakh patients, this initiative leverages weekly markets (Haat Bazaars) as healthcare access points for communities in remote regions and has been beneficial for the tribal communities.

Considering the impact of these schemes we can conclude that voters who directly experience the benefits of these initiatives would be more inclined to cast their votes in favour of the Congress, given that the government has played a crucial role in facilitating easier access to healthcare facilities for these communities.

A significant milestone has been achieved with the distribution of 5.05 lakh forest right letters to the tribal population, covering an expansive 97.63 lakh acres of land. Among these, 4.55 lakh are individual forest right letters, and an additional 45,934 are community forest right letters. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that despite these efforts, there is a palpable sense of disappointment among the tribal communities regarding the implementation of these schemes. The tribal population may lean towards supporting smaller, independent parties such as the Sarva Adivasi Samaj party, led by Arvind Netam who has consistently demonstrated a commitment to the welfare of tribal communities.

The government's diverse array of initiatives indeed reflects a comprehensive approach aimed at addressing the needs of various segments of the population. While these schemes appear to have the potential to influence a portion of the electorate positively toward the Congress party, the exact impact remains uncertain.

The upcoming 2023 Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections will undoubtedly be intriguing, and the results will offer valuable insights into the electorate's response to the government's policies and programs. As the political landscape unfolds, stay tuned for more in-depth analyses and updates on the election dynamics in Chhattisgarh.


Sara Nasreen

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