Ahead of Poll Date Presser, WB, TN Announce Welfare Schemes

Following WB and TN’s welfare schemes, the Lt Governor of Puducherry announced a VAT reduction on fuel prices.

2 min read
The states of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry made last-minute policy changes ahead of the Election Commission announcement. 

Soon after the Election Commission said that it was going to announce the dates for upcoming Assembly elections in Kerala, Assam, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Puducherry, three of these poll-bound states came forward with populist schemes, hours before the EC announcement on Friday,

Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Puducherry introduced last-minute policy changes on 26 February, discernibly for the purpose of bettering their electoral prospects.

Announcement of new welfare schemes is prohibited once the EC declares the poll dates and the model code of conduct comes into effect. This is aimed at minimising the advantage ruling parties may be subject to.

What Do the Last-Minute Schemes Offer?

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took to Twitter and introduced a hike in the wages of daily-wage workers under the West Bengal Urban Employment Scheme, noting that up to 56,500 workers, out of which 40,500 unskilled, 8,000 semi-skilled, and 8,000 skilled stand to benefit from this.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami too, had announced a populist declaration earlier in the day, informing that gold loans against up to six sovereigns given to farmers by cooperative banks will be waived.

He had gone on to justify the move, claiming that the economy was under recovery from the COVID-19 health crisis, and the move would benefit the poor redeem the gold they pledged during the lockdown.

Tamil Nadu State Apex Co-operative bank had introduced low interest rates gold loan schemes as part of the COVID-19 relief measures. The interest rate was fixed at 6 percent a year. In this, people could get ₹ 25,000 to ₹ 1,00,000 and the loan had to be returned in three months.

Earlier, Palaniswam had announced a similar waiver of up to ₹ 12,000 crore worth of farm loans given to over 16 lakh farmers, saying that it was his duty to address the concerns of the farming community.

Less than an hour before the Election Commission’s press event, the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly passed a Bill granting 10.5 percent reservation to Vanniyars within the Most Backward Classes quota.

Following the announcements in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan announced a 2% reduction in Value Added Tax on the prices of petrol and diesel in the union territory.

The Election Commission held a press conference and announced the dates for the Assembly elections in the states of Kerala, Puducherry, and Assam, apart from West Bengal and Tamil Nadu on Friday.

Assam and West Bengal, with three and eight phases respectively, will be the first states to go to polls beginning 27 March. Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry will have polling in a single phase on 6 April.

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