The Karnataka government today cleared Congress's five "guarantees" made before the recently concluded Assembly elections, and offered clarifications, explained conditions, and announced deadlines.
"We held a cabinet meeting today. We discussed all five promises thoroughly. We have decided that all five guarantees will be implemented in the present financial year," Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said today.
The free electricity scheme (Gruha Jyoti) will depend on the yearly consumption at the household level. A monthly average will be calculated, an extra 10 per cent added to it, and one won't have to pay the power bill if the final figure is below 200 units. This will start from July 1. "200 units of electricity will be free... Consumers who haven't paid their bills till July will have to pay," said Siddaramaiah.
For Gruha Lakshmi, Rs 2,000 monthly assistance to the woman head of every family, bank accounts will need to be linked to Aadhaar. Due to technical problems in Aadhaar linking, and determining who is the family head, the verification process will start from June 15 to July 15, and finish by August 15 when the payments will begin. This scheme is for both Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Antyodaya cardholders. Those who already avail of social security pensions will get this Rs 2,000 on top of that if she is the head of the family.
Anna Bhagya promises an assured 10 kg of rice free to every member of a BPL household. "We were giving 7 kg (in the previous government), they (BJP) made it 5 kg. Now, 10 kg of rice per head will be given to all members of BPL families," he said. This will begin on July 1.
Under the Uchita Prayana guarantee, the Chief Minister announced free bus travel for women within the state in state-run buses from June 11. However, the women passengers can travel only within Karnataka not inter-state. The scheme also excludes AC and luxury buses. The Karnataka State Transport Corporation (KSRTC) will reserve 50 per cent of seats for men and the remaining for women.
Youth who remain unemployed six months after their degree can apply to avail of Rs 3,000 per month for 24 months as part of the Yuva Nidhi guarantee. This includes transgender people too. Rs 1,500 per month will be given to unemployed diploma holders for the same duration. If they find a job in the meantime, then the payment would be stopped, Siddaramiah announced.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Wednesday mocked the Congress in Rajasthan -- the next crucial electoral battleground ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections -- raising questions about the stability of its government and what he called its "guarantee formula" for state elections.
"The Congress has a new formula of guarantees. But are they fulfilling their guarantees? Their guarantees will leave the country bankrupt," he said.
"Fifty years ago, the Congress guaranteed that it would remove poverty. But it turned out to be their biggest betrayal of the poor," PM Modi said.
The implementation of the five 'guarantees' announced by the Congress may cost an estimated Rs 50,000 crore annually. Key party leaders who spoke about the cost of the welfare measures insisted that one could not call them "freebies" as they were tools of empowerment.
The 'guarantees' reportedly found resonance with voters of the May 10 Assembly elections, particularly with women, and played a key role in the party's resounding victory.