How welfare schemes and their speedy implementation helped BJP win big in Uttar Pradesh
Besides the Narendra Modi factor, toilets and houses are key reasons why the Bharatiya Janata Party believed it will do well in India’s most populous state.
Besides the Narendra Modi factor, toilets and houses are key reasons why the Bharatiya Janata Party believed it will do well in India’s most populous state, as the backward castes have been the biggest beneficiaries of PM Gramin Awas Yojana and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
BJP’s assembly elections sweep of 2017 was widely attributed to the Centre’s Ujjwala scheme, under which free gas cylinders were distributed to the poor. Over 55 lakh (now 1.29 crore) connections, the maximum for any state, were given until March 31, 2017, government data showed.
What seems to be supplementing BJP’s chances this time is the Yogi Adityanath government’s speedy implementation of the other two flagship schemes for houses and toilets, which were faltering under the Samajwadi Party’s administration.
A big chunk of beneficiaries under both schemes have been backward castes and Dalits, who have traditionally voted for either SP or BSP, but have been wooed by BJP.
In Uttar Pradesh, 12.4 lakh rural houses have been completed as on date, with nearly 8 lakh built by the current dispensation. In March 2017, the figure stood at 5.58 lakh completed houses. Similarly, Uttar Pradesh had built only 25 lakh toilets till March 2017 when the SP government bowed out. Since then, however, 1.46 crore toilets have come up, taking the cumulative number to 1.71 crore to achieve 100% coverage.
In a recent interview to ET, Adityanath explained how his state achieved open-defecation free status within two years by building a record number of toilets. “When our government came to power in UP, we were still at the same coverage level while national coverage had almost doubled. Now, we are the no. 1 state in building toilets.”
ET’s conversations with rural voters showed that appreciation for a toilet or house, something that they had been deprived of for decades. This was tied to ‘women’s safety and pride.’ Congress’ NYAY and SPBSP’s caste mathematics aside, the state’s poor seem more content with what they already have – a gas cylinder, house and toilet.