TMC presents populist budget ahead of Assembly polls

TMC presents populist budget ahead of Assembly polls

 West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Finance Minister Amit Mitra during a media interaction following the presentation of the State Budget 2020-21 in the State Assembly, in Kolkata, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. Credit: PTI Photo

With an eye on the 2021 Assembly elections, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government on Monday announced several populist schemes such as pension for elderly members of the SC and ST communities, a Rs.500 crore fund for employment generation and a scheme to build houses for permanent workers of tea gardens. A total of Rs. 5150 crore is allocated for the social sector and employment generation.

The state Budget seems to be aimed at regaining the support of voters who had leaned towards the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP made significant inroads in the tribal  and tea garden areas in the last Lok Sabha elections.

During the Budget speech, Finance Minister Amit Mitra announced two new schemes for the elderly members of the SC and ST communities. He said that under the ‘Bandhu’ (Friend) scheme, members of the SC community, who are above 60 years of age and do not get any other kind of pension, will get a monthly pension of Rs. 1000. A total of Rs. 2500 crore has been allotted for the scheme which, according to the government, will benefit about 21 lakh people. A fund of Rs 500 crore has been allotted for providing members of the ST community a monthly pension of Rs.1000.

Claiming that unemployment rate has gone down by 40% in Bengal, Mitra said that under the Karmasathi scheme, in three years, employment will be generated for 1 lakh youth. Under the scheme, they will get loans upto Rs. 2 lakh. Mitra said that Rs.500 crore has been allotted for the scheme. Rs. 100 crore has been allotted to the Banglasri scheme aimed at boosting the micro, small and medium industries.

A fund of Rs. 500 crore has been allotted for the scheme which the government claims that in the next three years, more than 3 lakh permanent tea garden workers will benefit from the scheme.

Mitra also announced that people below the poverty line, whose electricity consumption is below 65 units every three months, will get free electricity. It will benefit 13 lakh people.

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