Pro-poor schemes gain focus as five states approach assembly polls



Prime Minister Narendra Modi has appealed to states to follow fiscal discipline so that there is no debt burden on future generations and not to mix politics with economics.

NEW DELHI : National parties have lined up farm loan waivers, income support schemes and the old pension scheme as they look to seize or retain power in key Assembly elections.

Five states—Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram— go to Assembly polls in November and December.

In Madhya Pradesh, the opposition Congress party has promised farm loan waivers, the old pension scheme, free electricity up to 100 units, 1,500 to every woman per month, and gas cylinders at 500. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled state government has launched a ‘Ladli Behena’ scheme offering monthly income support of 1,000 to women in the 23-60 age group.

Rajasthan’s ruling Congress government in July passed the Right to Minimum Guaranteed Income Bill, 2023, promising social security for citizens. The opposition BJP in August set up an election manifesto committee and election management committee.

Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan rank among the lowest in per capita income in India.

In Telangana, which has one of the highest per capita incomes in the country, the opposition Congress has promised a scheme, Mahalakshmi, under which women will be guaranteed 2,500 per month, subsidized cooking gas cylinders at 500, and free bus travel in state transport buses.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has appealed to states to follow fiscal discipline so that there is no debt burden on future generations and not to mix politics with economics.

Spokespersons of the BJP and Congress didn’t respond to queries.According to latest Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data, per capita income, measured in terms of Per Capita Net State Domestic Product (NSDP), at current rates (base year 2011-12), for Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan stood at 140,583, and 156,149, respectively, during FY23. They stood at 38,497 and 57,192 in FY12.

Per capita NSDP for Telangana stood at 312,398 during FY23, up from 124,104 in FY15. The state was carved out of Andhra Pradesh in June 2014.

The upcoming state elections will be followed by the general elections in May 2024.

Per Capita NSDP for Chhattisgarh stood at 133,898 during FY23, up from 55,177 in FY12, while that for Mizoram rose from 57,654 in FY12 to 198,962 in FY22. Mizoram’s per capita NSDP data for FY 23 is not available.According to economists, states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have been historically underdeveloped due to economic, social and political reasons.

“Agriculture dominates states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. What helped other states was the shift from agriculture to industry and services," said N.R. Bhanumurthy, vice chancellor, Dr B.R. Ambedkar School of Economics University, Bengaluru.

Bhanumurthy added that voting patterns may depend on economic issues but only when the economy does badly.

“Prices of essential commodities do impact voting," said Sanjay Kumar, a political analyst and psephologist.

Email queries sent to the public relations directorate of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan governments didn’t yield any response. The chief secretaries of Telangana and Mizoram didn’t respond to email queries.

Political analysts said data such as per capita income and other such benchmarks have no meaning in polls, and voters cast their votes based on other issues like inflation and ideology and day-to-day matters.

Other states that recorded high per capita income during FY23 include Karnataka ( 301,673), Haryana ( 296,685), Tamil Nadu ( 273,288) and Maharashtra ( 242,247).

Goa and Gujarat recorded per capita NSDP of 472,070 and 241,930, respectively, during FY 2022. The updated per capita income of these states for FY 2023 is not available.

During FY23, Sikkim recorded per capita NSDP of 519,964, the state with the highest per capita income in the country.

Similarly, Delhi recorded per capita NSDP of 444,768 during FY23, while the union territory of Chandigarh reported per capita NSDP of 333,932 during FY22. The updated per capita income of Chandigarh for FY23 is not available.

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