New Delhi: With a clear eye on the poll calendar, including the 17th general election due early next year, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) proposes to showcase its success to reach 24x7 power to all in the country.

Accordingly, one district will be identified in consultation with the Union ministry of power and the state government and supplied round the clock electricity.

This comes against the backdrop of the government’s focus of providing “24x7 clean and affordable power for all" by March 2019, for which the states are on board.

This is seen as a move by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha election to reap political dividends from programmes such as the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) and Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana, or the Saubhagya scheme.

“While the aim is to provide power for all by March 2019, there is an immediate focus on identifying one district in every state for providing 24X7 power for all," said a government official requesting anonymity.

This comes against the backdrop of DDUGJY, which helped bring electricity to all of India’s 597,464 census villages on 28 April, setting the stage for universal household electrification.

“Several states have gone ahead and assured power for all. There are still some states that are in the process of improving themselves. Identifying one such district and focusing efforts there makes sense," said a second government official who also did not want to be named.

The government had set a target to achieve universal household electrification by 31 March 2019. With electricity reaching all census villages, the government’s focus is now on providing electricity connections under Saubhagya. The government plans to provide electricity connections to 40 million Indian homes by December 2018. The government plans to achieve the target three months ahead of schedule, with the state-run Rural Electrification Corporation being the nodal agency for implementing Saubhagya.

Queries emailed to a power ministry spokesperson on 17 July remained unanswered.

Power minister Raj Kumar Singh has maintained that 24x7 power is a fundamental right of every citizen of the country. Also, state-owned electricity distribution companies have witnessed a substantial drop in their losses, which have narrowed to 17,352 crore in 2017-18 from 51,096 crore in FY16, Singh said last month.

“The people who have not seen darkness, don’t understand the meaning of illumination. Those who have not spent their lives in the darkness, don’t realise the value of light," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on 19 July while interacting with the beneficiaries of DDUGJY from states such as Manipur, Tripura, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan through video conferencing.

The government had also organized the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan for villages to spread awareness about its pro-poor initiatives under seven marque programmes. The push mainly aims to improve the socio-economic indices of India’s villages that are lagging behind in key sectors such as health, financial inclusion and electricity connections.

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