On February 14 and 25, an advertisement appeared on the front pages of newspapers such as Prabhat Khabar and Sanmarg. The ad featured a beaming Narendra Modi alongside a smiling woman who said she had got a roof over her head thanks to the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. The ad stated that 24 lakh families had become "atmanirbhar", or self-sufficient, thanks to this scheme.
We met the woman in the ad to find out if she had actually received a house under the scheme.
Laxmi Devi, 48, lives near Yogayog Bhawan at Kolkata's Chittaranjan Avenue.
She was indeed the woman in the picture, she said, but none of the claims in the ad were true. "I didn't get a house under this scheme," she confirmed. "I live in a rented house and pay Rs 500 per month."
Laxmi shares this house with her sons, their wives and children. She often has to sleep on the footpath outside, although she sleeps indoors when it rains.
"I sweep the park nearby for Rs 500 a month," she said.
Laxmi said she was stunned to see her picture in the ad and a little scared. She didn't exactly remember when the photo was taken, guessing that it could have been during the Babughat Gangasagar Mela, where she was stationed to clean toilets for 10 days.
As for welfare schemes, Laxmi said she received Rs 1,500 for three months from the Modi government during the lockdown. She didn't think much of the state government when it came to welfare schemes.
We asked BJP spokespersons in Bengal to clarify the claims attributed to Laxmi in the ad, but could not elicit a response. However, a youth BJP worker in Laxmi's area said she had posed for the photo after being told that she would get a house under the scheme if the BJP came to power in the state. He also told us that Laxmi trusted Modi.
This story is part of the NL Sena project which over 300 of our readers contributed to. It was made possible thanks to Vedant Kanade, Madhukar R, Shreyansh Jain, Navas, Ayan Dutta, Mathivanan, Padmani, Arjun Goutham, Sudarshana Mukhopadhyay, Ravi Pandey, Rajesh Shenoy, Sahit Koganti, Sarthak, Uma Rajagopalan, Somok Gupta Roy, Sam Sadguru, Tulasi Pemmasani, Praveen Surendra, Kamesh Goud, Ankur Mishra, Sharique Damda, Himanshu Singh, Akshaydeep Singh, Saurabh Bhatia, Chitrak Gupta, Mayukh Roy, Suhesh Lodh, Sumit Dhiman, Farzana Hasan, BK, Sandeep Sharma, Yuvraj Arora, Ranjith PS, Inderdeep Singh, Joseph M Raj, Gregory Cooper, Sayani Dasgupta, Soumit Ghosh, Daman, Raunak Dutta, Mhetre, Puneet Dravid, Md Rafat S Siddiqui, Shayan Sarkar, Aliasgar Khokhawala, Rinku Goel, Vijesh Chandera, Rohit Duggal, Qaim Alvi, Shubham Bangar, Sainath Naidu, Prabhat Lakra, Daksh, Bibhas Adhikari, Anima Dey, Sujith Nambudiri, Rahul Chauhan, Murali K, Aikya Chatterjee, Harshal Geet, Aditya Deuskar, Anindita Brahma, Abdeali Jivaji, Kamran Hambali, Pranav Prabhakaran, Ankur Mehrotra, Ston, Phani Sista, Kartik Rao, Sourav Banerjee, Ravinder Dasila, Rohit Jain, Gaurav Kumar, Anishkumar Madhavan, Abhijeet Kumar, Akash Chandra, Ridhima Walia, Priyanshu, Deepanker Mishra, Rishi R Mehta, Vaishali Miranda, Mithun Singh, Roger, Sandeep Roy, Bindhulakshmi, Jashan Ghuman, Subhadeep Banerjee, Suhas Gurav, Nahas, Apoorv, Reid Alexander Dsouza, Abhishek Chakraborty, Varun Arora, Oindrilla Mukherjee, Shageer, Arnab Chatterjee, Sahil Ali, Roushan Jha, Shamik Das, Srinivas Iyer, Simranjeet Singh Kahlon, Imran Shariff, Souvik Deb, Tamnjum, Rajeev Kumar, Nabil Shaikh, Sushmit Roy, and other NL Sena members.
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