Poll vault: Cong banks on 5.87 cr beneficiaries of govt schemes

Poll vault: Cong banks on 5.87 cr beneficiaries of govt schemes

Poll vault: Cong banks on 5.87 cr beneficiaries of govt schemes

Bengaluru: Roughly nine out of 10 persons in the state have received personal benefits under various 'Bhagyas' the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government launched since coming to power nearly five years ago, official data shows.

Nearly two dozen welfare schemes have apparently reached more than 5 crore beneficiaries, a poll vault the Congress is counting on ahead of the Assembly polls.

Siddaramaiah has been personally reaching out to beneficiaries during his ongoing, month-long Navakarnataka Nirmana tour, handing out benefits to people. For instance, a total of 10,808 people were lined up in the Chamarajanagar Assembly constituency to receive benefits under various schemes during his recent visit there.

Since May 2013, the government largesse has reached 15.65 crore beneficiaries under various schemes, including those rolled out by the previous governments such as the Arivu education loan scheme, the Bhagyalakshmi girl child assistance scheme, the Yeshasvini health insurance among others.

However, welfare schemes rolled out by the Siddaramaiah regime - 18 to be precise, catering to below poverty line (BPL) households, farmers, minorities, backward classes and Dalits - have 5.87 crore beneficiaries, Chief Minister's Office (CMO) numbers show.

It is this reach the ruling Congress is banking on ahead of the upcoming Assembly polls. The party's central leadership is already pushing out the narrative of the 'Karnataka model'. "This will be our pitch to the people," said Rajya Sabha MP M V Rajeev Gowda, who heads the AICC research department.

AICC national spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi also defended the government's Ahinda focus.

"It is the responsibility of the government to uplift weaker sections of society much as it may be criticised."

The populist Anna Bhagya scheme takes the cake. In the government's book, the scheme reaches 1.14 crore BPL families, but the beneficiary number is shown as 3.79 crore. That is because an average family has four persons, a CMO official explained.

The beneficiary number swells further because one person is highly likely to be covered under multiple schemes. For instance, a household receiving rice under Anna Bhagya will also get free gas cylinder under Anila Bhagya. "Both schemes are different, so they can target the same beneficiaries," the official said.

Interestingly, the state government's expenditure on subsidies has doubled since the Congress came to power, from about Rs 12,000 crore in 2013-14 to Rs 24,000 crore this fiscal.

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