With an eye on the upcoming Assembly elections in the State, due later this year, the Himachal Pradesh Government on Friday doled out sops for voters, even as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) claimed the recent announcements by the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP)-led government were a result of the latter’s “fear” of the AAP ahead of the elections.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur presided over the 75th State-level “Himachal Day” function held at Chamba town, where he announced 50% discounted fare for women in buses of the Himachal Roadways Transport Corporation.
He also declared that all consumers using up to 125 units of electricity would get a “zero (no charge) bill” from July 1, which he said would benefit about 11.5 lakh electricity consumers across the State.
Mr. Thakur added that families living in rural areas would not have to pay water bills, thus providing financial benefits of ₹30 crore to rural families of the State.
Mr. Thakur said the State government was focused on bringing positive changes to the lives of people, and ensuring rapid and balanced development of the State.
“The State government in its very first Cabinet meeting reduced the age criteria for providing old age pension from 80 years to 70 years without any income limit, which has now been further reduced to 60 years,” the CM said. “₹436 crore was being spent on social security pension before, whereas today more than ₹1,300 crore is being spent on it.”
The AAP, which recently sounded its poll bugle in the hill State, aiming to wrest power from the ruling BJP, was quick to hit out at its rival, terming the sops a direct outcome of the ruling party’s “fear” of the AAP ahead of the elections.
Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal said the announcements by the Himachal Pradesh Government were “a copy of the Delhi Government”.
“The BJP should make such announcements in all BJP-ruled States. Otherwise, people will believe that these are ‘fake’ announcements ahead of elections that have been made because of fear over the AAP. They will take it back after the elections,” Mr. Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi.
Earlier this month, the AAP launched its campaign by holding a roadshow in the town of Mandi, where Mr. Kejriwal along with Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann sought “a chance” from the voters to form the next government in the State. To step up the party’s election campaign, Mr. Kejriwal will also hold a rally in Kangra district on April 23.