Lucknow: Akhilesh Yadav's latest instrument to reach out to the people of Uttar Pradesh, where elections will be held next year, is the smartphone.
- Ahead of UP polls, state government may decide on free smartphone scheme
- Akhilesh Yadav government in UP likely to give away free smartphones
- After taking power in 2012, Akhilesh Yadav had distributed free laptops
After free laptops, the Chief Minister is planning to give away free phones. But conditions apply.
People can request now but the smartphones will be home-delivered only in the "second half of 2017"- a clear sign that the Samajwadi Party plans to keep this promise only if it is voted back to power.
The phone will be a "two-way communication tool to inform and educate the poor about government schemes and policies," the state government said today. The phone will run on latest software and will come loaded with the app on which users can also share feedback on the state government's policies, an official said.
Anyone who is over 18 and lives in Uttar Pradesh can apply for a phone - online - provided their family income is less than 2 lakh rupees a year. The online registrations are likely to start in a month.
The ruling party is believed to have crafted its latest strategy after an assessment that the smartphone will be a surefire hit with young voters.
At a recent function, the Chief Minister had hinted at the scheme, saying "Samajwadis will think of something which we can give to next generation or something through which they can get more information about the government and share their expectations. The cities are becoming smart and through mobile applications people are getting information."
In 2012, when the Samajwadi Party returned to power in Uttar Pradesh, one of its key promises was free laptops for students, a promise that the 43-year-old chief minister kept but not without controversy. Besides various problems, the government ended up owing crores to Hewlett Packard, the company supplying the laptops.
In the election due early next year, Uttar Pradesh is likely to see a tough four-cornered fight between the Samajwadi Party, the BJP, Mayawati's BSP and the Congress.