Samajwadi phones to lure youths before UP elections

Best-laid plans POLL PLOT: The ruling Samajwadi party has announced distribution of free smartphones as a way to lure youths to vote for them

In order to ensure that they come back to power after the crucial assembly polls next year, the ruling Samajwadi party has announced distribution of free smartphones as a way to lure youths to vote for them. The idea, a brainchild of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, takes its root from the free laptop distribution scheme implemented by his government couple of years ago.

The government has, so far, distributed over 18 lakh laptops to students and like this scheme, the main motive behind distribution of free smartphones is to lure youth voters before the assembly polls.

But the SP has been clever and scheduled the distribution of smartphones for after June 2017, by when the elections will be over and the new government will be formed. If the SP comes back to power it may go ahead with the scheme. Any other government would put it into cold storage. The message from the chief minister is very clear—ensure SP's victory in coming polls and get the smartphone.

The opposition has already made a mockery of the scheme. The BJP statehead Keshav Maurya said, "By distributing smartphones SP will not be able to come back to power, the youth will not fall into this trap, this time they will vote for a change."

The Congress leader Satyadev Tripati said, "Before elections, political parties are making false promises to lure voters and smartphone distribution scheme is nothing but a move to lure young voters."

Online registration for this scheme, which has been named Samajwadi Smartphone Yojna, will begin within a month. However, beneficiaries will have to fulfill certain conditions. They should be of 18 years of age on January 1, 2017 and should have passed 10th standard. At the time of online registration, the applicants will have to upload a scanned copy of high school certificate. Annual income of those who want these phone should not be more than Rs 2 lakh per annum. Those in government jobs will not be entitled for this scheme and even children of parents who are in government service will not benefit from this scheme. The family of a private sector employee with an annual income less than Rs 2 lakh can take advantage of the scheme.

The phone will be sent to the beneficiary's home and the distribution will begin after June 2017. The SP is quite hopeful that this move will help the party get a huge political mileage in coming assembly elections.

However, the government is yet to divulge details like the number of phones it plans to distribute, the budget for the scheme, which company would be given the contract or the apps that the phone would have. When contacted, an OSD (Officer on Special Duty) in the government said, "At present, things are at a conceptual level and these details will be determined in due course of time."

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