Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot may be battling intra-party rival Sachin Pilot and his ambitions for the CM post but he is also simultaneously eyeing the assembly elections next year. Beneficiaries of Centre’s Ujjwala scheme, around 67 lakh BPL households, will now get 12 LPG cylinders at Rs 500 each, when the market price for them is Rs 1,056. Gehlot has been big on freebies in both his earlier terms in office but that didn’t save Congress from anti-incumbency,
Admittedly, LPG cylinder prices are very high at the moment. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has hurt India and the world badly. Household expenditure on fuel has increased. “LPG cylinders for all” was made possible for GoI by the fall in fuel prices after 2014. Himachal voters have punished the BJP there and rewarded the party in Gujarat. In the former, the party was hurt by price rise while in Gujarat the loads of industrial and development projects helped it.
Voters do respond to freebies and sops. But they are also influenced by a plethora of factors like their ability to secure jobs in the state, effectiveness of state police against crime, hassle-free delivery of services and corruption. With elections turning presidential, there’s also a strong preference for chief ministers who project strength and court development. Gehlot will want to ponder how many of these other boxes he checks, aside from welfarism.
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