Drawing expected lines
With an eye on the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Yogi Adityanath government, in its maiden budget, earmarked Rs. 1,240 crore for Ramayan, Buddhist and Krishna circuits, in the pilgrim cities of Ayodhya, Varanasi, and Mathura. The BJP government also allocated Rs. 800 crore under the 'Prasad Yojana' to develop infrastructural facilities in these cities. In a bid to boost cultural heritage in the state, the budgetary allocation for these circuits has been made under the Swadesh Darshan Yojana. The budget also provides funds for setting up of the Gita Shodh Sansthan (Gita Research Institute) in Mathura and the Krishna Sangrahalaya (Krishna Museum). Besides, Rs 200 crore has been earmarked for setting up a cultural centre at Varanasi, which is Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Lok Sabha constituency.
A commitment has been made to hold 'Lok Malhar' and 'Savan Jhula' programmes in Gorakhpur and Ayodhya. Special places for rendering 'bhajans' will also be constructed in Ayodhya and Chitrakoot. Other schemes incorporated in the budget include development of 'Parikrama Marg' and conservation of the cultural heritage of Chitrakoot. Meanwhile, targeting 10 per cent growth over the next five years, the Yogi Aditya Nath government's maiden budget focuses on farmers and the rural population. The targeted growth is well above India's projected growth – 7.2 per cent for 2017-18. The Rs 3.84 lakh crore budget – 10.9 per cent bigger than the previous one - provides Rs 36,000 crore for the farm loan waiver scheme announced by the CM just after taking charge. The government claimed it could arrange for funds for the scheme by checking extravagance and without compromising fiscal discipline. The UP Chief Minister later said that his budget represents the aspiration of the 22 crore people of UP, and the government is determined to fulfill its promise of waiving the crop loans of small and marginal farmers- it has sanctioned Rs 36,000 crore that will be given to banks to redeem farmers' debt.
While it has gone into overdrive to make provisions for farmers and the rural sector, the pressure to fund the loan waiver scheme has forced the government to drop many welfare schemes of the previous government, including the much-hyped laptop scheme, Kanya Vidyadhan and pension scheme. Despite the BJP government's endorsement of the project through a Cabinet decision, there is no mention of the Purvanchal Expressway in the budget. The state government, however, has focused on cultural and developmenal activities, making an e-secretariat and free distribution of school bags, shoes, and sweaters to students, besides providing a big push to the urban housing schemes funded by the central government. To integrate the element of health with women and child welfare, the Yogi government has also decided to mark specific days on the state calendar. The fifth day of every month will be dedicated to children while the 15th would be earmarked for adolescent girls (Bachpan Divas and Laadli Divas, respectively). Besides, the 25th day of every month, Mamta Divas, will be dedicated to women.