Dahod : The previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government left “empty coffers" after its 10-year rule which made it difficult for the present National Democratic Alliance (NDA) dispensation to work for the poor, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah said in Dahod on Sunday.

Shah, who was speaking at the launch of the second phase of ‘Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana’ at Dahod, also compared Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign for giving up LPG subsidy by well-off people to that of former PM Lal Bahadur Shastri’s call of voluntarily giving up one meal to deal with food shortage.

“The UPA government had left us with empty coffers because of which it was not possible for the present government to do anything for the poor," Shah said, addressing the gathering where chief ministers of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan were also present.

“As soon as the Prime Minister (Modi) took over, he took steps to remove corruption and curb black marketing by direct transfer of 13,000 crore into the bank accounts of poor people," he said.

“He also initiated ‘give it up’ scheme and appealed well-to-do people to give up gas subsidy for the sake of country’s poor.

The response to the appeal was unprecedented, perhaps never before did any Prime Minister get such a massive response," Shah said.

“If we look back, perhaps (former PM) Lal Bahadur Shastri had made a similar appeal to the countrymen to stop eating dal-rice which received immense response and people had stopped eating it," the senior BJP leader said.

“On PM Modi’s appeal, one crore people have left the (gas) subsidy which is not a small thing," he said.

Highlighting the benefits of ‘Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana’, Shah said, “No other scheme can provide women empowerment better than ‘Ujjwala Yojana’.

“Six crore women will get gas connections, which is the best example of women empowerment and poverty alleviation."

Modi had launched the programme from Ballia in Uttar Pradesh on 1 May which aims to cover five crore beneficiaries for which 8,000 crore has been earmarked.

The second phase of the programme was launched on Sunday in the presence of union minister of petroleum and natural gas Dharmendra Pradhan, and chief ministers Anandiben Patel (Gujarat), Vasundhara Raje (Rajasthan) and Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh).

The tribal beneficiaries from Jhabua in MP, Pratapnagar and Dungarpur in Rajasthan, and from Dahod and Panchmahals in Gujarat were given LPG connections.

On the occasion, Pradhan said within three years, five crore families will get LPG connections for which 8,000 crore finance will be provided.

“This financial year alone, one crore new connections will be provided for which 2,000 crore have been earmarked. In Gujarat, in the coming days, we will provide 25 lakh new connections, most of which will be targeted at rural beneficiaries," Pradhan said.

The minister also said that the government was not passing on the entire benefit of reduction in global crude oil price to the public so that the remaining money was diverted to the programmes oriented towards the poor.

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