Gujarat election 2017 date declared: How Modi used delay to keep BJP ahead

Bhavnagar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi performing ‘Poojan’ at Ghogha Sea Ferry Point to mark the inauguration of Ghogha-Dahej Ro-Ro Ferry Service, in Ghogha, Bhavnagar, Gujarat
Gujarat assembly elections will be held in two phases for 182 seats on December 9 and 14 and results will be announced on December 18. Hence, from today, the model code of conduct has come into force, which bans the use of government machinery or announcements that can influence voters.

Amid indications that the Gujarat poll dates would be out any day now, the BJP government in the state and centre had announced a series of sops for different sections of the society, including farmers, protesting accredited health workers and backward castes.

The Congress party has slammed BJP government for "jumlas" (fake promises). Business Standard has compiled a list of sops announced by the Gujarat government and Centre since the Election Commission (EC) declared the election dates for Himachal Pradesh and delayed announcement for Gujarat polls.

In the last 22 days, there have been many major welfare announcements from the BJP government - either at the Centre or the state.

Here is a list:

1. Interest-free agriculture loan of up to Rs 3 lakh to farmers: On October 16, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani announced farm loans of up to Rs 3 lakh at zero per cent interest. The move, aimed at wooing voters of rural Gujarat, is likely to benefit 2.5 million farmers. Addressing the BJP workers at 'Gujarat Gaurav Sammelan', Rupani said that the seven per cent interest on loans will be borne by the state and Centre. The state’s exchequer will have to deal with an additional burden of Rs 700 crore per annum.

2. Minimum support price of Rs 900 for groundnut: The Gujarat government raised its minimum support price (MSP) for the crop and, decided to buy a limited amount at the MSP of Rs 900 per 20 kg against the current market price of Rs 750-800 per 20 kg; a sum of Rs 500 crore has been allotted for this.

3. Rs 100 bonus on 20 kg of cotton: On Sunday, the state government declared a bonus of Rs 100 per 20 kg for cotton to be paid to farmers over and above the minimum support price (MSP). "The bonus of Rs 100 per 20 kg for cotton will help cotton farmers get remunerative prices for their produce," said Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.
The move will put a financial burden of Rs 1,250 crore on the state exchequer.

4. Formation of 16 new Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) units: On October 11, the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) announced that it would set up 16 industrial estates that would attract over 15,000 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) with an investment of Rs 19,650 crore. These new industrial estates – 50 per cent of which will be in the Saurashtra region – will aim to create over a lakh new jobs in a state that goes to polls in December. “To promote MSME units, we are announcing new industrial estates in 16 places. About 15,000 units will be set up on plots measuring between 50 to 500 square meters. They will also generate 1 lakh jobs,” said Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.

5. Inauguration of passenger service from Ghogha to Dahej: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday inaugurated the first phase of the Rs 615 crore ‘roll-on-roll-off’ (Ro-Ro) ferry service between Ghogha in Saurashtra and Dahej in south Gujarat. "This is the first of its kind project not only in India but also in South-East Asia," Modi said. This will join the east and west coasts of the Gulf of Khambhat, Modi said.

6. Pay revision for fixed salaried workers: In a bid to woo the angry fixed salaried workers who have long been demanding pay revision, the state government announced a hike of Rs 250 daily allowance, 11 holidays, a 40-day maternity leave and Rs 2 lakh death insurance for employees working in the Sachivalaya, various boards and corporations as well as other government offices.

7. GST waiver on micro irrigation equipments: Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel announced waiving of the 18 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) on micro-irrigation equipments. This expense of around Rs 77.64 crore will be borne by the state government.

8. 50% hike in incentives given to ASHA workers: The state government also announced a 50 per cent hike in the incentives given to ASHA workers, who have been holding demonstrations at various levels for the past many days against the government. On an average, an ASHA worker earns around Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500 per month. The government also will be disbursing them two saris or dress annually.

9. Appointments to vacant posts: Gujarat government announced the much-awaited appointments to various vacant posts of various boards and corporations in a bid to woo communities. The most striking appointment was that of rebel MLA from Congress who defected to BJP, Balwantsinh Rajput. After his loss in the Rajya Sabha elections, he has been given a key position of chairperson of the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation. Besides him, the government also filled crucial positions of chairpersons of the newly-formed Gujarat Rajya Bin Anamat Varg Aayog (Gujarat Non-Reservation Category Commission) and the Gujarat Rajya Bin Anamat Varg Shaikshanik ane Arthik Vikas Nigam, (Gujarat Non-Reservation Category Educational and Financial Development Corporation). These bodies were formed after the BJP government's negotiation with the Patidar social and religious institutions and leaders, along with Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) and other agitating groups. These positions were given obviously to Patidar faces, Hansraj Gajera and B H Ghodasara.

10. Modi lays foundation stone for Bhadbhut barrage project: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 8, laid the foundation stone for the Rs 4,337-crore Bhadbhut Barrage project here which aims to stop the ingress of salinity along the Narmada river. Addressing a public meeting in Gujarat, Modi said the barrage project will solve the issue of drinking water for Bharuch, and also open up new channels for fisheries.

11. Antyodaya Express: Modi also inaugurated the Antyodaya Express that will connect Surat and Bihar's Jaynagar. The train will depart from Udhna Junction on Sunday and reach Jaynagar on Monday. The Antyodaya train between Udhna-Jaynagar is expected to run at the average speed of 49 km/hr. The train will cover a distance of 1,862 km and travel for approximately 37 hours 50 minutes.

Projects, schemes launched by Centre

12. Modi in Kedarnath: On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that there will be more employment opportunities in future. He asked for more support for India 2022 and said that he will return more inspired for the ‘India 2022’ plan. He promised to develop Kedarnath shrine into a model pilgrimage site. Sufficient funds would be made available for completing the projects in a time-bound manner, assured the PM, who was making his second visit to the pilgrimage site this year, laid the foundation stones of five major reconstruction projects at Kedarpuri.

13. Recapitalisation of state banks: On Tuesday, Narendra Modi-led government approved a state bank recapitalisation plan of Rs 2.11 lakh crore over the next two years, in a bid to clean banks' books and revive investment in a slowing economy. Of the planned sum, recapitalisation bonds will account for Rs 1.35 lakh crore, while Rs 76,000 crore will come from budgetary support and equity issuance, said Rajiv Kumar, India's financial services secretary. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the recapitalisation of state banks would be followed by a series of reforms.

14. The government on Tuesday approved Rs 7 lakh crore worth highway projects including the ambitious Bharatmala.

The development comes barely few months after Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said that the government will soon launch the Bharatmala project to build over 20,000 km of highways in the first phase. Bharatmala is a mega plan of the government and the second-largest highways project after NHDP that saw the development of about 50,000 km, and aims at improving connectivity in border and other areas.

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