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Modi's masterstroke

Modis masterstroke

It was another masterstroke by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to fox and silence his critics. So, when he launched the Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya) electricity scheme to provide 24x7 free power to all families across India by December 2018, it was like an 'invincible' poll-plank for the Opposition to counter as they often criticised Modi government for not connecting with the poor and befriending the rich. Taking serious notes of the 40 million out of 172 million families still living without power, it would be really a milestone in bringing the poor to the mainstream. Incidentally, the timing is also perfect as Modi has set a deadline of December 2018 for 100 per cent rural electrification. If this ambitious scheme is achieved within the stipulated time, it would definitely cut down the tasks of poll-pundits – who make strange predictions.

However, electrification of rural households isn't new item in the Modi's pro-poor agenda. In May 2014, he had set a 1,000-days target to electrify 18,452 villages. And, now with this Saubhagya scheme, he appears to reach out to the last mile, pooh-poohing Opposition's claims. The scheme has a capital outlay of Rs 16,320 crore, of which the Centre will contribute Rs 12,320 crore. What is more important is that in this new scheme the poor will not be charged for the electricity connection but the government will bring the connection to the poor's doorstep as India is progressing towards a power surplus country from power-deficient country. It may be noted that the government has worked on electricity projects worth more than Rs 1 lakh crore in past three years, India is moving towards "One Nation-One Grid-One Price". One must remember Modi is known to time his important announcements well. With his surprises like Jan Dhan Yojana, FDI reforms, demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, he had not yielded mass appeal, rather puzzled even the best of his political enemies. And, this Saubhagya scheme might also boom ahead of 2019 General Elections!


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