Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s recent announcement to give out subsidised LPG cylinders to women seems to have backfired in , with many returning empty-handed from gas agencies in Shivpuri district.
“Your brother will provide LPG cylinders for Rs 450 in the month of Saawan. After that, I will make permanent arrangements so that there is no difficulty due to expensive gas,” Chouhan had announced on Sunday as a “brother”, at an event in Bhopal to celebrate Raksha Bandhan and mark the – which was launched by the BJP government in January with an eye on women voters and for their economic empowerment.
The chief minister had started his speech by singing yeh rakhi bandhan hai aisa from the Manoj Kumar-starrer Beimaan, and promised that cylinders will be available for Rs 450 in the month of Saawan, which ends with Raksha Bandhan on August 31.
Several women, including those who attended the event, rushed to gas agencies the next day, but found zero implementation of the promise on ground.
There is no clarity on whether any official orders were issued.
The Madhya Pradesh BJP had issued a press release ahead of the CM’s event, stating that Chouhan will hand out “gifts”.
‘Rakhi gift was valid only for two days’
In Shivpuri’s Pichore tehsil, women were asked to pay the usual amount by gas agencies.
Seema Koli, a 33-year-old resident who attended the CM’s Raksha Bandhan event online, said, “Many women attended that programme online. The rakhi gift was valid only for two days so we went to refill the cylinders on Monday. But when we went to the gas agency, we were told that cylinders will be refilled only at the price of Rs 1,185 and not for Rs 450…He (CM Chouhan) addresses all women as behna and just keeps repeating at events that he cares a lot about them…But he should remember that in the upcoming elections, he will face the wrath of his sisters for making false promises.”
Lakshmi Kushwah, a 25-year-old resident of Shivpuri district, claimed that civic agencies had invited women to attend the event online.
Mithila Goswami, a 55-year-old resident of Shivpuri, said, “I went to the gas agency to refill the cylinder because I thought that I would be saving more than Rs 700.We are poor people; even Rs 200 makes a difference… Around 30-40 women went to the gas agency with empty cylinders to refill but it was quite humiliating when we were told to go back.”
Gas agencies were left baffled.
Lokesh Lodhi, a gas agency owner in Shivpuri, said around 50 women came to his agency a day after the CM’s promise. “We didn’t receive any circular so we explained to them that we cannot refill the cylinder at Rs 450… For the last two days, dozens of people have come here and we have been receiving hundreds of calls for refilling. We can’t do anything because we have not received any circular from the government.”
At the event in Bhopal, 35 percent reservation for women in government jobs, and hiked the financial aid given under the Ladli Behna Yojana from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,250 per month. He also said that he had transferred Rs 250 into the accounts of 1.25 crore women so that they can celebrate rakhi well, and that the rest of the Rs 1,000 will be credited in September.
Newslaundry reached out to Satyendra Khare, CM Chouhan’s officer on special duty. “He made the announcement in the month of Saawan and the money will be transferred into their account in the next two or three days,” he said, disconnecting the call. “The plane is taking off. I will call you after landing.”
Madhya Pradesh is likely to hold assembly polls by the end of the year. And both the BJP and Congress are trying to woo women voters in the state, where women form more than half of the electorate.
After Chouhan’s announcement in Bhopal, Congress state unit chief Kamal Nath had hit out at the BJP, saying that the party was only trying to salvage a sinking ship.
A weekly guide to the best of our stories from our editors and reporters. Note: Skip if you're a subscriber. All subscribers get a weekly, subscriber-only newsletter by default.