In the “freebie war” in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, the Congress has promised a monthly dole for every school-going child in the state, which may cost nearly Rs 20,000 crore a year and put a big strain on the state’s education budget.
There are expected to be nearly three crore children in the age group of 4-18 in the state as per current projections of the population, a top state government official told News18. Even if around two crores of them go to a school, they will be entitled to get an amount between Rs 500 to Rs 1,500 per month depending on which class they study in, as per the announcement by Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Thursday.
It is not clear if the announcement will cover only the children going to government schools — which is around one crore students — or all students going to the government-aided and private schools too.
If the case is the latter, it translates to an annual budget of over Rs 20,000 crore, as per rough calculations.
Priyanka said every child studying in classes 1-8 will get Rs 500 per month, those in classes 8-10 will get Rs 1,000 a month and those studying in classes 11-12 will get Rs 1,500 monthly. The Congress in Madhya Pradesh has called it the “world’s largest scholarship scheme” under its Padho Aur Padhao Yojana. This came as a new promise after the Congress announced a monthly dole of Rs 1,500 per month for women in the state plus a gas cylinder at Rs 500 per month if it comes to power in Madhya Pradesh on December 3.
This is now aimed at wooing families with a promise that both the women and school-going children in the state will get a monthly dole.
Priyanka said education will also be free in schools in Madhya Pradesh. The BJP in the state scoffed at the scheme, saying the Congress never lived up to its promises and had not given an unemployment allowance to the youth in its term of 15 months that it had pledged in the last elections.
BJP leaders pointed out that even in 2018, the Congress in its manifesto had promised free education and laptops and scooties for meritorious female students, but nothing was delivered. The BJP also described Priyanka’s rally on Thursday as a “jhooth ki dukaan”.
In the freebie war in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP is giving Rs 1,250 per month to over 1.3 crore women in the state as part of the CM Ladli Behna Yojana and a gas cylinder at just Rs 450. The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government has also been successfully running the Ladli Yojana for the girl child for many years. Under this, nearly Rs 1.4 lakh is given to each girl child in instalments from her birth till she gets married.