Explained: Details Of The Welfare Scheme That Could Have Already Decided The UP Election In Yogi Adityanath's Favour

Swarajya Staff

Jan 21, 2022, 05:39 PM | Updated 05:39 PM IST

Vendor processes the ration card of an Indian 
woman at his Fair Price Shop.  (Representative image) (ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
Vendor processes the ration card of an Indian woman at his Fair Price Shop. (Representative image) (ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Why Uttar Pradesh government's free ration programme could be the least-discussed but most important theme of the upcoming elections in the State.
  • In the run up to the UP 2022 Assembly polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has formally begun its campaign with a mass outreach programme that will see party workers in groups of five (as per EC’s rules) visiting households in all 1.74 lakh booths to highlight the work done by their ‘double-engine government’.

    The BJP workers have been directed to reach out to almost 3.5 crore beneficiaries of government welfare schemes and make people aware of the development work and improved law and order situation in the state under the BJP rule by distributing pamphlets and magazines highlighting the same.

    The party workers have also been asked to remind the voters about the much needed assistance provided by the governments of Modi-Yogi duo to the poor and the middle class during the coronavirus period, especially the unabated supply of free ration, since the Covid-induced lockdown began in April 2020.

    Interestingly, even after the lockdowns ended, the Yogi Adityanath-led government didn’t halt its free ration distribution scheme and have now extended it until March 2022.

    The free ration scheme in UP

    In addition to Prime Minister Gareeb Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) (April 2020-March 2022), the UP government has also been providing subsidised and free food grains since April 2020 to the ration cardholders and to beneficiaries of the Antyodaya Yojana in the state.

    And the scope of the UP government's ration distribution scheme was expanded in November 2021, as CM Adityanath announced the “Maha Abhiyan” of free ration distribution, under which the state government is providing double ration, free of cost to close 15 crore total beneficiaries.

    Following this, the Antyodaya beneficiaries and eligible ration cardholders now are not only getting free wheat and rice twice a month, but are also being given free pulses, edible (refined) oil and salt.

    According to the UP government, there are about 1,30,07,969 beneficiaries under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and 13,41,77,983 beneficiaries from the ration card holders.

    What and how much does an eligible family get?

    The eligible ration card holders will get a total of 10 kg free ration (6 kg wheat and 4 kg rice) per unit (family member) every month. Earlier this was 5 kg per unit (3 kg wheat and 2 kg rice) every month. Since November the same amount is being given twice a month.

    At the same time, eligible Antyodaya Anna Yojana beneficiaries will get 35 kg free ration (20 kg wheat and 15 kg rice), twice every month, bringing the monthly figure to 70 kg (40 kg wheat and 30 kg rice).

    Other than the free food grains; 1 kg iodised salt, 1 liter refined oil, and 1 kg arhar dal is also being provided to both the AAY beneficiaries and eligible ration cardholders.

    As per the official data of the Census authorities, Uttar Pradesh has the most crowded household with an average of six people. Taking the number of members in a family as six, with each member getting 6 kg wheat and 4 kg rice every month, the quantity for the entire family adds up to 36 kg wheat and 24 kg rice every month.

    As per the current market rates, the average market rate of wheat across varieties is Rs 1,930 per quintal, i.e. Rs 19.3 per kg, which makes it to Rs 695 for 36 kg of wheat. Similarly, the average market price of commonly consumed non-basmati rice in Uttar Pradesh is Rs 30 per kg, which makes it to Rs 720 for 24 kg of rice. The current rate for arhar (tur) dal, refined oil, and iodised salt is Rs 90 per kg, Rs 140 per liter, and Rs 20 per kg, respectively.

    The prices for all these commodities (36 kg wheat, 24 kg rice, 1 kg arhar dal, 1 liter refined oil and 1 kg salt) which are being provided free of cost to an eligible ration cardholder family equals Rs 1,665 per month. The same assistance come close Rs 1,900 per month for every Antyodaya cardholder family which gets 70 kg food grains in addition to the 1 kg arhar dal, 1 liter refined oil, and 1 kg iodised salt.

    Will the free ration translate into votes for the BJP?

    The Covid-induced lockdown pushed millions in the direction of poverty as people exhausted their savings, got trapped into debt cycles, or lost their jobs.

    India, like most other countries, struggled on many fronts, but ensured uninterrupted access to food supplies.

    In Uttar Pradesh, the PMGKAY along with the free of cost assistance provided by the state government ensured that the poor, the migrant laborers, daily wage earners, helpless senior citizens, as well as the lower middle class, did not face food shortage or hunger during the pandemic.

    With the images of PM Modi and CM Adityanath printed on the free ration packets, and an efficient delivery of food grains under the programme, this could be the least-discussed but most important theme of the upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh.

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