The Rajasthan government will provide cooking gas cylinders for 500 to people living in poverty and enrolled in the Ujjwala scheme, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot announced today in a major announcement ahead of next year’s assembly elections.
The announcement was made by the Chief Minister in the presence of senior party leader Rahul Gandhi. In an implicit criticism of the BJP, he said his government would provide 12 cylinders a year to each of these families at less than half price.
“I’m planning the budget for next month… Right now, I want to say only one thing. Prime Minister Narendra Modi provided LPG connections to the poor through the Ujjwala Scheme…The cylinder, however, remains empty because the (cylinder) rates are now between 400 and 1,040,” Mr Gehlot explained. “I’d like to say that we will provide 12 cylinders per year for the poor and under the Ujjwala scheme, at a cost of 500 each,” Mr Gehlot added.
Rajasthan’s assembly elections are coming up next year, and the Congress is going all out to win a second consecutive term in the state. But, more than anything else, the party has attracted attention for its infighting.
Mr Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot clashed again earlier this month, just before Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra arrived in the state.
Mr Gandhi, who was in Alwar today, praised the achievements of Mr Gehlot’s government, with a special mention of the 1,700 English medium schools Mr Gehlot’s government has opened.
The announcement is interpreted as Mr Gehlot signalling to Team Pilot that his position is secure and that he will present the election budget and lead from the front next year.
The government’s decision is expected to give new impetus to the debate over freebies and subsidies, which has previously targeted Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party.
The case is currently before the Supreme Court, which suggested during a hearing in August that an all-party discussion be held on it.