Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation on New Year's Eve announced a slew of sops for the poor and middle class including farmers and small traders.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation on New Year’s Eve announced a slew of sops for the poor and middle class including farmers and small traders. Modi said, “The number of houses being built for the poor, under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana in rural areas, is being increased by 33 per cent. Loans of up to Rs 12 lakh taken in 2017 will receive interest subvention of 3 per cent and loans of up to Rs 9 lakh taken in 2017 will receive interest subvention of 4 per cent.” Many in the Opposition are terming his speech as a mini Budget speech whihc is full of sops to woo voters in key states going to polls in 2017. The Election Commission is likely to announce poll schedule for the states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Punjab next week. Uttar Pradesh in particular has a huge population of poor and middle class. PM’s announcements prior to Election Commission coming out with poll schedule could well be a master strategy to woo voters.
However, in the 50-day demonetisation period that PM Modi had asked the citizens of the country to bear with, it was the poor and the middle class that had to stand in queues to withdraw or deposit money in banks. Many had reacted angrily to this and various media reports suggested that over 100 people lost their lives. After PM announced the banning of old Rs 500 and 1000 notes, BJP has won local body elections in various states. Party leaders said that this was a verdict by the people on PM Modi’s demonetisation move.
Watch: Full speech of PM Narendra Modi on New Year’s eve
But, state elections could be a different game alltogether. Gone are the days when sops played a big role in deciding elections. Take Bihar for example – PM Modi had announced a huge package for the state, if BJP had come to power. However, voters put their faith in the time-tested leadership of Nitish Kumar. Now, let us take the case of Uttar Pradesh. Many people from poor and lower middle class background from the state migrated to larger metros for jobs; however, with PM’s demonetisation many had to return to their towns and villages because of unpaid wages due to cash crunch. Yet another factor that plays a crucial role in UP polls is caste. But, with a divided opposition and infighting within the ruling Samajwadi Party, BJP could well emerge as the single largest party in the state.
In Punjab, however the situation is different, the BJP-SAD alliance has been ruling the state for the last 10 years and facing strong anti-incumbency. Many people including politicians in the state have been involved in drug trade, and Opposition parties like AAP and the Congress are using this to target the ruling dispensation. The voters of Punjab are less likely to swing their votes in BJP’s favour on account of a handful of sops that the PM has doled out.