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Rajasthan Assembly Polls: From Pension To Affordable Cooking Gas, Congress Banks On Welfare Schemes To Beat ED Raids 

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has made seven promises to the people of Rajasthan, including the formalisation of the old pension scheme (OPS), distribution of laptops, purchase of cow dung from farmers, etc.

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Ashok Gehlot at Labharthi Samvad
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The Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government in Rajasthan is banking on welfare schemes to beat the pressure of raids of central agencies in corruption cases against party leaders. 

To change the 25-year-old trend in Rajasthan in which the government changes hands in every assembly elections, the Congress party is banking on Gehlot’s governance record and the seven ‘guarantees’ that the party has announced, which address the concerns of retired government employees, farmers, as well as students. 

The push for these guarantees came just a day after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) raided the house of Rajasthan Congress President Govind Singh Dotasara and also sent a summon to Gehlot’s son Vaibhav. Some of the guarantees include the distribution of free laptops and tablets to college students, the formalisation of the old pension scheme (OPS), the purchase of cow dung, etc.

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The Congress party also projected unity while pushing for these schemes as Gehlot shared the stage with the party’s state in-charge Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, state president Dotasra, and senior leaders Bhanwar Jitendra Singh, Sachin Pilot, CP Joshi, and Govind Ram Meghwal.

Congress guarantees in Rajasthan

The seven guarantees of the Congress party seek to address the various segments of the state, such as retired employees, farmers, and students. 

While two guarantees were announced in the presence of Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday, five others were announced on Friday by Gehlot. These guarantees are:

  • Distribution of free laptops and tablets to college students
  • The formation of the old pension scheme (OPS) through a law
  • English-medium education for every student
  • Purchase of cow dung by the government from cattle farmers
  • Rs 15 lakh insurance cover for natural calamities 
  • An annual honorarium of Rs 10,000 in instalments to women heads of households 
  • Providing cooking gas cylinders at Rs 500 to 1.05 crore families

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The announcement to purchase cow dung at Rs 2 per kg from cattle rearers is on the line of Bhupesh Baghel’s Congress government in Chhattisgarh where it is named Godhan Nyay Yojana.

“We earlier launched the old pension scheme, but if the BJP comes to power, they will roll back the scheme which is why we will pass a law in the assembly when we form the government. Our guarantees will be delivered to the people of Rajasthan exactly the way we fulfilled the promises made in 2018,” said Gehlot while announcing the guarantees.

Congress banks on schemes amid ED raids

Interestingly, the guarantees were announced by Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot precisely a day after ED took action against the party’s state chief Govind Singh Dotasra in connection with an alleged paper leak case and issued a notice to his son Vaibhav Gehlot for alleged contraventions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) in a separate case that dates back to September.

Accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of using central agencies to target political rivals, Gehlot said, “ED is a Centre's machinery to harass the ruling Congress government. What they are doing in Rajasthan is a repeat of what they did in Karnataka. And Congress finally won the state elections.”

Reacting to Gehlot’s accusations, BJP leader and state assembly’s Leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathore said, “Congress is making a series of false promises. There are corruption charges against the Congress leaders and thousands of youth are in the dark after the continuous paper leak scams. The guarantees are just a whitewash to hide their failures.”

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Earlier this year, Gehlot launched his government’s flagship initiative ‘Mehangai Rahat’ camps (inflation relief centres). The Congress government claims that around 1.9 crore families benefitted from the scheme. Under the scheme, beneficiaries were given: 

  • Subsidised gas cylinders for Rs 500, 100 units of free electricity
  • 2,000 units of agriculture electricity free
  • Annapurna Food Packets for National Food Security Act (NFSA) beneficiaries
  • An additional 25 days under MNGREGA
  • 125 days of work under the urban employment scheme Indira Gandhi Shahari Rozgar Yojana
  • Old-age pension of Rs 1,000 
  • Rs 25 lakh insurance plan under the Mukhyamantri Chiranjeevi Swasthya Bima Yojana
  • Rs 10 lakh accidental insurance coverage
  • Rs 40,000 cattle insurance under the Mukhyamantri Kamdhenu Pashu Bima Yojana

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Gehlot said his government had earlier fulfilled its promises by launching inflation relief camps and Congress gained the trust of the people by fulfilling the promises made to them. He added that neither he is promising the Moon nor he is going to empty the state’s coffers. While emphasising the promises made, Gehlot said, “Trust means Congress, development means Congress.”

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